Our long, recurring nightmare is over … hockey is back!
Yes, the National Hockey League and its skating concussion candidates reached a deal Saturday to end the lockout that threatened the season for the 27th time. If they can dot the i’s and cross the t’s (this would assume the players can write, so I’m not holding my breath), hockey will be back by January 19th.
Oh, joy! Oh, happy day! Oh shit!
Oops, sorry. That last one just kinda slipped out.
You see, I’m rather ambivalent about the return of the NHL. I like hockey, and I like the Oilers (if, for nothing else, they provide a diversion on a -30 winter night), but this latest lockout has soured me on professional sports played on ice. While part of me is glad they’re coming back, another part of me says a pox on both their houses. (Translation for hockey fans: that’s a common misquote of a Shakespeare line from Romeo and Juliette — the correct version of which is ‘a plague on both your houses’ — which basically means screw you both.) I have become comfortable with the idea of the NHL vanishing for another season. It seems that, somehow, the world continued to revolve despite it being deprived of a Caroline Hurricanes versus Phoenix Coyotes game or two.
Now that it’s back, I have a request for all of you hockey fans who have been waiting with our noses pressed up against the ticket wicket, clutching your money, begging for the NHL to start again.
Oh, I don’t mean the whole season. You’re not made of stone (except when you’re actually at an Oiler game, where the fans make as much noise as a room full of statuary). I mean one game.
When the Oilers, Flames, Jets, Canadiens, Leafs and Canucks return, don’t go. Send a message to the league and the players that you have been taken for granted once too often. Same goes for U.S. cities where hockey thrives — your New Yorks, your Phillys, your Chicagos, your Bostons. Telling fans not to go to games in Phoenix or Carolina or other cities where hockey is as welcome as jai alai in Winnipeg is redundant. In many cities in this pathetic league, empty buildings are the norm.
But please, hockey fans, just skip the one game. When the NHL comes back with it’s ‘all is forgiven, right?’ attitude, tell the league to shove it. It won’t hurt you to miss one lousy game, will it? It would send a message to the NHL that you can’t just toy with our affections, treat us like dirt, and then just pretend nothing has happened.
The National Hockey League — beloved by millions, ignored by millions more — is unquestionably the worst run major sports league in the world. Yet it is counting on the childlike devotion of its fans to return to the game. And in the cities where hockey matters, they will. But wouldn’t it be nice, just for one lousy game, for the fans to give the finger to the league and to the players, by not showing up for the opening game? What a statement the fans could make by having a sea of empty seats greet the players on opening night.
Please, hockey fans, give it some thought. Boycott the NHL season opener in your town. Spread the word. Send this blog to your hockey loving friends. Tell them to send it to other hockey loving friends.
All I’m asking is that you miss one game. Watch it on TV if you like, don’t go. Empty seats in Canada would tell the NHL that this is the last time you, the hockey fan, will be ignored.
Say it with me, everyone …. Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!