For 118 days we witnessed an epic will-they-or-won’t-they soap opera of news coverage not seen since the days when we wondered if Ross and Rachel would hook up, get married, or… Look, who really cares? We all knew that the NHL would eventually sort out their marriage problems. There was never really the possibility of a divorce over ‘irreconcilable differences.’ If there had been, perhaps we would have heard from Vince McMahon and rumours of a new XHL, Extreme Hockey League. But we didn’t.
However, even now that an agreement has been reached, the media has not let up on speculation about salvaging the season, the heart of the game, et cetera. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which owns the rights to the highly lucrative Hockey Night in Canada, had posted 49 separate stories about the return to hockey in less than 72 hours. Anything to keep the hype machine rolling and stoke fans’ interest about what a reduced season could entail.
Athletes will be undertrained, but a ‘short’ 48-game season will mean no room for ‘slumps.’ A 48-game season will mean hockey firing on all cylinders at nitrous speeds! Don Cherry, paid spokesperson for Hockey Night in Canada, believes the shortened season will make things much more unpredictable, build greater rivalries and animosity between teams, and give underdogs a better shot at the playoffs. Phew! All that potential drama! And, completely free of any marketing propaganda whatsoever!
In an effort to smooth things over with the public, players, coaches and many other NHL officials have begun making personal apologies to fans. Many said fans have taken to Twitter, suggesting free game tickets, free subscriptions to NHL Centre Ice, reduced concessions and free memorabilia would all be good ways for the NHL to smooth things over. But certainly, an apology is just as sufficient and won’t impact the trough filling fought for tooth and nail by gluttonous greed bags across North America.
Nevertheless, the majority of NHL fans will not be fooled by hollow apologies from millionaires. This vocal majority claims to be done with the NHL from here on out and in perpetuity. In an online poll conducted by CBC, a whopping 60% of respondents stated they have lost all interest in the NHL. Surely this means arenas will be empty, television ratings will plummet, and dive sports bars pocketed across the country will continue to see their revenues decline.
Men and women everywhere are already planning ‘NHL is back’ parties across the land, chilling beer and counting down to January 19. The millionaires you love to hate have got you, hook, line and sinker. Rage all you want about the strike, greed, disservice to fans, and the rest, but don’t try to fool yourself or those around you about some sort of principled stance you are taking against an entire media juggernaut. Just drink the kool aid and hush.
Huffing and puffing has been known to work very well. Since many already have this strategy covered effectively, you can demonstrate your frustrated abandonment of the megalithic empire of the NHL with these two suggestions:
1) Support local sporting events. Surely the Revelstoke Grizzlies could use your continued support. There are another 6 weeks or so of games you can attend. Spend your dollars there instead of the NHL. Also, rumours of an underground Revelstoke ping-pong league secretly whisper of a spectator sport rife with action. Matches have been known to turn into bloody battles that the police have yet to crackdown on.
2) Support local arts and culture. Granted, admiring a painting or sculpture might not be as exciting as watching bloody chicklets spit onto frozen water, but guaranteed our local artists need and deserve your dollars way more. Revelstoke’s music scene can be fast paced and exciting. Bands pass through town for ‘one night only’ shows and amalgamations of local musicians joining forces randomly for jam sessions throughout town. Imagine your favourite NHL players coming together for a game of pickup at the local rink. Well, the same musical magic happens weekly in Revelstoke with always-spectacular results.
Over the 85-day, 48-game season we will hear a whole lot more about the degradation of the sport, the greed of its players and owners, and the corporacracy that has replaced the good ol’ game of hockey. Yawn. So what else is new?