Hello, hockey fans and welcome to... Day 30 of Lockout Lunacy. That is, 30 days since the National Hockey League's collective bargaining agreement expired and league commissioner Gary Bettman effectively told the players to get the puck out of here, officially ushering in the fourth work stoppage in league history.
Initially it was hoped that the lockout would be brief (how hard can it be to divide a $3.3-billion pie)? Shortened training camps, maybe the loss of a few pre-season games, and then logic and common sense would prevail amongst the pie-cutters, right? Wrong.
As the days progressed, talks between the two warring factions did not. The owners, led by Bettman, and the NHL Players' Association, led by executive director Donald Fehr, upped the rhetoric and dug in their heels. Any talks held were on "non-essential issues" (Who's going to pick up the tab for the sushi? Who's going to win The X Factor? Who's buried in Grant's Tomb? That sort of thing). Essential issues -- the kind most negotiators like to tackle up-front -- were left locked-up in leather briefcases.
All of which has led us to: hope suddenly disappearing faster than regular-season games. Players skating off to Europe to ply their trade with teams based in places they could not find on a map, even if given clues. Teams laying off personnel. And offshoot industries -- everything from taverns owners to the television networks that bring us the games -- beginning to lose their shirts. Oh, and fans fast losing their patience.
There are three types of people in this world: those who don't give a hoot about hockey, those who are peripheral fans of the great game, and those who are hockey fanatics. The first types naturally don't care about the work stoppage. The second types have easily, painlessly moved on to other sports, and other forms of entertainment: who knew that darts or Dancing With The Stars could be so doggone riveting? However, it's the third type -- the hockey fanatics -- that I'm truly worried about.
These sad souls are suffering severe withdrawal pains. They know not what to do with their spare time, or, for that matter, their lives. As a kind, caring, empathetic individual, I feel their pain. As a Dr. Phil kind of guy, it's my duty to to help them find distractions from that pain -- to help them find things to do that might fill the giant void in their lives. To that end, I humbly suggest, as a means of surviving Lockout Lunacy:
Or, if you're beyond distraction and beyond being consoled, simply remain hunkered down and miserable in your man-cave, harboring your hate for Bettman and your festering frustration with Fehr. Who knows? In time, perhaps logic and common sense will prevail. I'm personally not counting on it, but.perhaps.
Let's face it, it's going to be a cold, long winter. We might as well contribute to society and make some babies. It will keep us busy till springtime and hopefully we won't miss hockey as much.
Hey, if there's one big stereotype about Canadians its that we live in igloos. Why not take this winter to build some? We might as well look into these architecturally amazing properties, now that we don't need a house to plug our T.V.'s into.
The ice is fresh and the hockey lovers free... its the obvious solution. Bring those sticks out and get rolling on the ice!
Hockey is hockey and these minor league players are pretty darn good!
Let's face it, Canada is incomplete without hockey. Maybe it's time to venture out to brighter horizons and indulge in some cricket in Australia or soccer from Brazil. Hasta la vista, baby!
Follow Andy Juniper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/theSportJesters