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Andy Juniper Headshot

Will the NHL Reach a Deal Before the World Ends?

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In an irony as ripe as weird Uncle Willard's bedside denture jar and nuttier than old Auntie Jean's inedible fruitcake, there are whispers that the National Hockey League and its players union are inching toward an agreement to truncate their age-old lockout, and allow a new season to finally begin... right around the time the world is scheduled to end.

And while no one would ever accuse NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman -- or his National Hockey League Players Association counterpart Donald Fehr -- of having any pressing sense of time, this is an obvious case of really bad timing. Consider: you're finally prepared to drop the puck when -- kaboom -- the great cosmic puck drops on you (peace out, puckies!)

I know, I know, there are some cynics out there who don't believe that after a decent run of some four billion years, the world will suddenly cease to exist on Friday. Personally, I was skeptical. I grew up hearing my father forever intimating that the world will end when the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup. Suffice to say, I grew up feeling very secure.

But this is the real deal. I just know it. And my knowledge, like the gadget I use to clip unsightly nose hairs, is three-pronged: There are more than a million websites saying the end is nigh, and when was the last time anything on the Internet was wrong? No less than the Government of the United States of America and NASA have denied impending doom, which is akin to when the owner of a sports team swears that his hapless coach is safe and will not be fired. Hello, pogey!

Finally, most convincingly, my plumber told me that this is no hoax, that the world is indeed about to implode. He was snaking one of our toilets at the time when he let slip that he'd seen a documentary on TV that had so thoroughly convinced him, he ran out and bought so much survivalist gear, his wife mistook him for a crazy person and left him. I was tempted to question why he was spending what he was sure were his finally days unplugging toilets, but as general rule of thumb you don't provoke a plumber until after his invoice arrives.

Anyway, in case you're not up on precisely why the world is going to end, I leave the explanation to the guys at NASA -- these guys are, like, rocket scientists. "The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May, 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December, 2012." And surely they've got it right this time.

As a glass-half-full kind of guy, I'm busy mining positives out of what could possibly be perceived as a negative. If (ah, when) the world ends on Friday we will no longer have to listen to breathless reports from alleged "insiders" reporting on what they think might be happening inside the NHL labor talks.

We will no longer have to resort to watching beleaguered sports TV networks filling hockey slots with Aussie Rules Bingo (league motto: Someone's Always Getting Five Under The I), or the gem of a movie the CBC's been tossing up in place of Hockey Night in Canada. Last Saturday's offering: The Family Stone, or as it's now known around our house: Dreck.

Finally, if you believe -- like I believe -- that there's hockey in heaven, then we are scant days away from awesomeness on ice. Old-time NHL greats lacing up and facing the current crop of stars. Hockey Night in Heaven, live from The Celestial Gardens. Free snacks. Free beer. Hell, even free parking. Naturally, the only gouging allowed is on the ice!

Adios, everyone. It's been real. See you on the other side.

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