I woke up today thinking it would be any regular Sunday: completely naked, my head laying over the side of my bed, desperately trying to avoid the sunrise shining through the pathetic excuse for curtains and onto my face. But then I saw the news, that glorious and long-awaited news, that the NHL lockout has finally come to an end.
I awoke to such a clatter the likes of which could only be compared to Columbus Day with regards to the volumes of posts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Friendster (The kids are still on Friendster, right?). LITERALLY TENS OF PEOPLE LOST THEIR SHIT at the idea that we won’t go an entire year without feeling guilty about forgetting about hockey.
But after two lockouts in the last 8 years, it comes as no surprise that a few people are feeling jaded by the NHL. It’s going to be awkward because it’s not easy to just forget about the past few months of torment and anguish.
Also, let’s not forget that while the NHL was hibernating, numerous players went off in the search of green pastures and foreign paychecks, which means that the depleted schedule could also come with depleted rosters. Which means that both the quantity and quality of the games this season will suffer considerably.
The fans need to be entertained, but more importantly, at this most auspicious time, they need to be enticed. I’m talking big time promotions here, a couple blasts of the T-shirt cannon is not just gonna make this all blow over quietly. Let some fans drag race the Zambonis between periods. Put seating directly above and beneath the ice for extreme VIP status clientele. AND FOR GOD’S SAKE, $9 FOR A PLASTIC CUP OF LABATT BLUE IS SOME HIGHWAY ROBBERY BULLSHIT.
All major sports leagues have their flaws. The NBA is full of prima donnas. The NFL has to convince people that being manly and wearing tight pants and knee socks can happen simultaneously. Heck, the MLB has to struggle through 4 and a half hour bore-fests of pitchers waving off catchers’ homoerotic hand signals while squatting underneath umpires who clearly enjoy their jobs a little too much.
All sports have their respective audiences that find that nothing rustles their jimmies quite like grown men fighting with sticks or congratulatory butt-slapping, and I expect hockey to flourish once again with a new 10-year Collective Bargaining Agreement in place. It’s not going to be easy; the age of social media has made it all too easy to voice criticisms, and the NHL has been a pretty big target for anyone with a weapon and an unconditional, possibly unhealthy, love of hockey. So if you’re reading this, NHL anybodies, understand that while the lockout fixes the season, it won’t fix the sport in the eyes of people who have just been made painfully aware that love of the game is trumped by love of cold hard cash and sweet, sweet pension plans.
The love is still there, but the trust has been broken. We’re fans; we like sportz, and we don’t care who knows. The ball’s in your court, err I mean, the puck’s in your zone? (Hockey reference: CHECK). Win us fans back. (Bonus points for doing it in the craziest, most unnecessarily extravagant and awesome way possible.) Your move, NHL. Choose wisely.