Somewhere, earlier today, in jolly ‘ol England you have to believe Paul Romanuk rushed into a room and declared to his family: “It is..OVER!”
Well, perhaps it didn’t play out quite that way with Romanuk, but one can always dream.
You also have to wonder if Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and Donald Fehr arrived home for some shut-eye only to be met with honey-do lists from their better halves. They have, after all, had precious little time for family over the past four months.
One thing is for certain: 100 percent of all NHL players are thrilled to be returning to their natural habitat. Sure, many have been plying their trade in lesser leagues, but that’s akin to George Clooney starring in community theatre – both are doing what they love, they just aren’t doing it where they love doing it.
So how about you? What was your reaction? Judging by the social media posts, you are:
(1) Thrilled to pieces that NHL hockey is back and can’t wait for it to consume your life again. You feel no need to apologize for lining the coffers of billionaires and millionaires.
(2) Still pretty ticked at both sides and will continue your pledge to boycott the league, the pledge you took up when there was no end in sight to the lockout.
(3) Struggling with mixed emotions. You’re fed up, but waiting to see what the league does to win you back.
All of the above reactions are perfectly acceptable, provided you listen to your heart (you know, that organ inside your chest that sustains you). There’s no need to feel guilty about buying tickets, or NHL merchandise, or watching on TV. Guilt, according to Oprah (I love her, by the way) is a useless emotion. In no way does it advance your cause, so just let it go, OK?
At the same time, if you feel a burning desire to make a statement and boycott the league, then do it. The NHL and its players have proven they don’t respect you. They say all the right words, but they ring so very hollow. Right now, you’re a Taylor Swift song. You’re a jilted lover being wooed by the piece of garbage who did you wrong. Act accordingly.
I suspect the majority of fans fall into the third category – the one with the door marked “proceed with caution.” Part of you wants to come back, part of you wants to continue watching MacGyver on DVD on Saturday night to prove a point. My advice: don’t be that person. If you love hockey, if you bleed the colours of your favourite team, then it is ridiculous to deny yourself. Life is too short to go without doing what you truly love.
Suppose for a moment that your provincial or territorial government all of a sudden suspended hunting, fishing or trapping. But they only put a ban on certain types of killing activities – the ones that were the most important to the sportsmen in your province. Then, after months of uncertainty, the government reinstated the right to kill the furry animals that people most enjoyed killing.
Do you think that outdoor enthusiasts would turn their back on their way of life as a protest? Isn’t this like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Don’t be that person. That’s just plain silly.
You love hockey. Heck, you may even be addicted to the game. You get your fix where you can. The NHL happens to have the best, most sublimely talented players. If you’re hardcore, you’ll be back. And that’s OK.
Just don’t fight it and you’ll be fine.