Time to embrace the good part of the NHL
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 12, 2013 06:00 am
Finally, NHL hockey is set to return to arenas all across North America, to television screens in millions of homes and sports bars, to the many daily sports pages across the continent and to the daily conversations of millions of fans both rabid and casual.
It couldnít have come any sooner, what with all the serious goings on in the news, from senseless shootings to endless Idle No More protests to warnings of provincial spending cutbacks. What we need right now more than anything is a break from this seriousness.
To those whose livelihood depends on the NHL, the lockout was the most serious of all news happenings of the last four months, but to most of us it was a peripheral happening that Ė while frustrating at times Ė was just there, like a two-car pileup at the side of the road.
Now we can put all that behind us. Forget about debating whether players association head Donald Fehr deserves devil horns or whether NHL commissioner Gary Bettman should have a Hitler moustache. Thereís a reason we donít put posters of those guys in our dens.
Letís get down to the important business of speculating whether the Nuge and the Nail will throw down the mitts during their first training camp scrimmage. Will Ryan Jonesí hair achieve first line status, relegating Ryan Smythís flowing mullet to checking line duty? Now our evening television wrap-ups will offer a full slate. Rather than being forced to decipher the meaning of vague statements by Idle No More protesters, weíll have the option of interpreting the meaningless cliches of post-game scrums, that soothing white noise that reassures us that everything is OK in the world.
Sure, the NHL is big business and it just held its fans hostage for 113 days, and some of us may want to punish them by turning the other way despite their return to spectacle production. But letís face it, most of us wonít do that. They did their business stuff and now we get to partake in the good stuff Ė swift skating, fine passing, highlight reel goals, jaw-dropping body checks and heart-pounding fisticuffs.
We get to debate who sucks more, the Flames or the Oilers. Or maybe itís the Leafs vs. the Habs. It doesnít matter. What matters are that the players will be playing and we the drooling masses will have something to talk about besides railroad blockades and atrocities in Syria.
The cynics among us will utter statements about a bunch of millionaires playing a kidís game to line the pockets of billionaires. Whether thatís true or false, for many fans, having NHL players playing games will bring a meaningful contribution to their existence. The inherent meaninglessness of the game, its separateness from other aspects of life, carries its own meaning.
We all need diversions in our lives, and for a large portion of the Canadian population, the Royal family and Oscar madness donít quite cut it. So letís raise a mug to the return of NHL hockey, the best game we can name and the most beautiful waste of time we know.