Well, here we are. It's a Wednesday night in December, and Sportscenter has an extended interview with Kobe Bryant about when the Lakers should push the panic button. They have plenty of time to fill, as there are normally hockey highlights to be shown.
Having gone to Arizona State, there weren't many die hard hockey fans in the desert, but I was able to find a few east coasters that would watch games. One of them was my friend Joe. (That's his real name.) Joe was a Rangers fan, while I grew up a Devils fan. Instant rivalry. It made watching the games more fun. Even though we're a nation apart now, we can still get at each other whenever the two faced off, which was often. Without the NHL, our conversations have become too...cordial.
Going back even further to grade school, whenever you met a new friend, you asked them their favorite five. (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, & NCAA) Does it seem like pro hockey continues to fall further out of the way as a "mainstream sport"? It seems like more and more, I hear, "I don't really watch a lot of hockey." Well NHL, this strike isn't helping.
I notice that I'm treating "The Strike" like two friends breaking up. At first I was trying to listen to both sides, to see who I should side with. Then at some point I almost felt bad for one party. Now I'm at that level wear I'm angry because both sides have been dragging it out for so long, and it's beginning to affect my life.
While wearing my "Christmas" Devils throwback jersey out (while doing some holiday shopping), I passed a guy wearing a Flyers jersey. Normally we would have snubbed our noses at each other, or even made a comment towards one another, but instead, we just sadly nodded at one another, as if we both realized that we missed hating each other's logos. The same thing happened when I walked by a gentleman wearing a Rangers hat. Whether the League, or the players union will admit it, we, the fans are the victims.
The sad part is, this isn't the first time. Like an ex-girlfriend we all ran back to, the League, after the most recent strike that cost us a full season, said it was back and better than ever. For a while, things were good. But once again, talk started at the beginning of last season. We thought it was just rumors. Surely something would be done. Even Gary Bettman wouldn't let that happen twi...
As a younger Devil fan the last time this happened, I still haven't forgiven the sport for stealing the final year of Scott Stevens. I know many have different opinions of #4, but the man could check you into the boards by looking at you. (Flyers fans, keep it down, Lindros was skating with his head down) So help you if I've seen the last of Marty Brodeur between the pipes
I know that owning a franchise isn't what it use to be. The most popular team in the world, Manchester United can't even turn a profit. But as the individuals responsible for creating our fascination with the game of hockey, you should take equal pride in maintaining it. Veteran players are missing out on the final years of their careers, some are missing out while in their prime. How does this make sense? How will they explain it to fans? How do you justify it to some of the players who are treading water in limbo-esque pools, waiting for their shot, while the first shot of the season has yet to be taken?
Back in the day, there were gaps on players baseball cards. You know why? Because they had to go fight in World War II. Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Phil Rizzuto, Stan Musial, and Hank Greenberg all had voids in their stats because they were fighting for the most important thing. Freedom. There will be some hockey players who have two voids because they were fighting for something else entirely. Money.
So in my best Judge Smails impression:
"Well, We're Waiting!?"http://youtu.be/angi1vwUkQc