Friday, February 04, 2005

Hokey Hockey Plays Hooky

~ To some of us sports fans, there hasn't been much empathy for the woes of the other major sport. Indeed, it appears that the NHL has finally iced itself. NHL now means Not Hardly Lately. THis might be one penalty for its players to kill. The 2004-05 season is now done, stick a fork in it. Except for its diehard fans, that reality has come as no surprise to many.
~ My wife asked me, "What is hockey, anyway?" I replied blandly, "It's a sport played on figure skating rinks." She paused for a moment before adding, "Oh, yes. That's the one where one father beats up another parent because one man's kid hit the other man's kid too hard." Smiling I nodded, "that's the one." Next she declared, "That's hokey!" "No, it's hockey!" I exclaimed. "It's playing hooky!" Her blank stare and shaking head gave evidence that this conversation was over. I certainly didn't want to get into the differences between a lockout and a walkout anyway.
~ Ironic, isn't it, that it is the owners taking a hard line stance for a salary cap. After all, it was them who were paying the excessive salaries, in some cases, to scrubs. The league actually began building its cofins years ago with its inexplicable expansion. Incredibly, this cancerous growth even reached south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and
LaLa Land. Where there is desert, there was a team playing on ice. Apparently the league's thinking was that there was a number of fans across the country who had been uprooted from the hockey hot beds. One question they failed to address was just how significant that number might be. Before expansion, the NHL could not maintain a major television contract. Even the loveable "Peter Puck," animated by Hanna-Barbera, failed to generate a viable interest in the sport.
~ Eventually both the owners and the players will wake up. They will realize that changes beyond the salary issues,
must be confronted. The NHL must get rid of six or more franchises. The player pool is spread too thin. A great many of these players aren't good enough to be playing professional hockey on a highly competitive level. They need to eliminate the blue line. Adopting a fast moving finesse style of play similar to the international game, would be a major enhancement. They need to realize that the game isn't the one the Hanson brothers played. Sorry, hooligans, but the fighting needs to be cleaned up. Then again, maybe the fans like the joke; "I went to a fight the other night, and a Hockey game broke out." Get over it hockey fans! That is the perception your sport has outside your penalty boxes.
~ Now before you go out and throw yourselves in front of a speeding Zamboni, wake up and right your sinking scow!
I wonder how money the NHL is paying Don Rickles to use that name for that hard to see rubber disc. Someday, the arenas will reopen, hopefully with a viable product this time.
~ In the meantime, those pretty little figure skaters in their pretty little skirts will continue to give the ice something to do other than float in a drink. Sadly, they will have to let the men use their rinks again. Don Rickles will once again start receiving his royalty checks when the puck hits the ice.
~ What's this? Is that Tanya Harding hacking at the defenseman's knees? Whoa! Peter Puck just checked her into the boards! Now that's what I'm talking about! Old fashioned it hockey?
No. 18
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