With the official release of the 2014-2015 NHL schedule on Sunday, it was confirmed that 28 other teams agreed to participate in yet another Chicago Blackhawks or Los Angeles Kings run to a Stanley Cup championship. Even commissioner Gary Bettman was surprised.

“The owners could have made at least one unreasonable demand,” Bettman was overheard lamenting to a confidant. “Otherwise what am I doing here? All I’ve got is this cheap suit and my idea to dot the greater southwestern desert with unprofitable teams.”

In a league known for its strikes, it often comes as a surprise when anything the NHL promises happens on time. And in a decade so far dominated by the Blackhawks and Kings, it is even more surprising that all 28 other clubs would agree, without hesitation, to participate in another lost cause season.

But one GM indicated it wasn’t so easy.

“I had to promise half the players on my team they’d be included in a mid-season trade to the Hawks,” said Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Ron Francis. “I’m hoping to weasel out of that one when the Kings accept my application for assistant coach.”

Bandwagon Dan