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Lockout Amnesia: There Was Life Without Hockey?
In a befuddling offseason with almost no action I too was one stomping my feet at the NHL throughout the lockout. The only things that brought me solace was photo-shopped pictures of Gary Bettman with horns on his head, or the simple play on words with his last name, that’s “Buttman” for those unaware. As the zero hour drew to a close to cancel any hope of a season, I assured myself I was in with the fool me once, fool me twice crowd. Needless to say when I awoke in a haze on January 6th to read the season was on, I danced like O.J. hearing the words “not guilty.”
With the imminent dropping of the puck I tried not forgetting that we as fans had been wronged, the Kings even pounded that in my mind with their horrific ring ceremony. (Aren’t they aware no one cares?) But when Kane netted that first goal, and the season became a reality, the bitterness and disgust went away. After all, we do not cheer for the NHL, we cheer for our respective teams.
Now a month removed, the only thing reminding me of the harsh feelings and lockout is the amount of games played. A month in and the only thing reminding me of how negligent and plain dumb the NHL can be, is a very good looking zero in the loss column, and some great hockey. While some fans may not feel the same way, the vendetta I told myself to carry out was completely futile once I saw a freshly zambonied sheet of NHL ice, cut by some terrible officials. (Sadly, it was that easy.)
The little things like the referees and linesman taking the ice, hearing the anthem at home in Chicago, watching captains drop the gloves, making fun of that bald man in-between the benches that I as a hockey fan cannot resist. To boot the Blackhawks are on the verge of history and playing with more hustle and cohesion than even Quenneville could have dreamt. Right now there seems to be no way for a hockey fan to stay away from the Blackhawks.
It makes one wonder if there is a Blackhawks fan with his Karpovtsev jersey still stuffed deep in a drawer with no plans of returning. Instead of watching the Hawks tie NHL history last night against hated rivals, he saw Nancy Grace profile Casey Anthony for the 5,000th time in a row. As Jamal Mayers made Raffi Torres answer the bell, the astringent fan watched bar owners answer their own bell as Bar Rescue returned to Spike TV. In the harsh and dark winter of Chicago it is hard to imagine how close we were to chanting simply “Bettman sucks” and not “Detroit Sucks,” now we get the best of both worlds.
With so much to be grateful for I realize what is going on right now is a very rare occurrence. We are 35% of the way through the season and still….I won’t say anymore, Pat Foley has taught me all about jinxes. The bottom line is, things are purely looking up. We are allowed to scoff at every video Brendan Shannahan presents, despise officials, yet praise the Champoux’s and Van Massenhoven’s, we await the next line brawl eagerly, now appropriately wear our sweaters in public, get blinded by Don Cherry’s next suit, laugh at the fabricated “Wed night rivalries,” and most importantly see the greatest talent in the world go at it each night. In the end, that is all us peasant fans were asking for.
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