September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

National Lampoon’s Lockout Vacation

The classic movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is somewhat of a holiday tradition in my house. We make sure to watch it at some point prior to Christmas, as I’m sure many others do as well.

For those who haven’t seen it, Clark W. Griswold sets out to give his family a good old-fashioned fun family Christmas. However, very quickly the Griswold household is overrun by unexpected guests and holiday plans gone awry. Many of the characters unwittingly destroy Clark’s plans and have him on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

To get into the holiday spirit, I thought it might be a good idea to look at the major players in the lockout and what role they would best be suited to play if they were starring in Christmas Vacation. At this point the NHL is in about as big of a mess as the Griswold house on Christmas Eve.

NHLPA playing the role of Russ Griswold: Russ is Clark’s son and seemingly has little interest in all of the holiday festivities, but instead would rather be off playing somewhere with his friends. He goes along with his dad’s plans, even though he sounds lukewarm to everything.

It’s sort of like how the Player’s Association is still backing Donald Fehr, even though about 95% of them are ready for this thing to be over and just want to return to the ice. It’s almost easier for the players to continue following along rather than speaking out and upsetting the apple cart even more.

At one point Russ questions why his dad is going to such an extreme with the lights on the house and Clark says, “You want something you can be proud of, don’t you?” To which Russ half-heartedly replies, “Yeah, I guess so.”

Last year it blew my mind when I learned that Johnny Galecki, who currently plays Leonard on The Big Bang Theory, also portrayed Russ in Christmas Vacation back in 1989.

NHL Fans are playing the role of Art Smith: Art is Clark’s father-in-law and is one of the most negative and pessimistic people you will ever meet. He is set in his routine and his main focus seems to revolve around taking his back pills.

After Clark shows off the beautiful illuminated house with thousands of Christmas lights to the family, everyone is awestruck except for Art. “The little lights are not twinkling,” he says. Clark then solemnly replies, “I know Art…… and thanks for noticing.”

You can’t blame hockey fans at this point for thinking the worst. After losing an entire season eight years ago, and getting our hopes up several times in the past few months, it’s hard to expect any NHL supporter to be full of holiday cheer.

Jeremy Jacobs playing the role of Uncle Lewis: Lewis is Clark’s Uncle, and is a mean old man with little regard for anyone but himself. He destroys the family tree without even offering an apology.

Jacobs, much like Lewis, is set in his ways and not willing to give an inch. There was a report a few weeks ago that Jacobs blasted a Winnipeg Jets front office representative for “speaking out of turn”. A report that all parties later suspiciously denied. Either way Jacobs, much like Lewis did for the Griswold family, isn’t making the proceedings easy on anyone.

Donald Fehr playing the role of Cousin Eddie: Cousin Eddie shows up out of the blue and throws a wrench into the Griswold’s holiday plans. His mere presence makes everyone uneasy and Eddie is constantly screwing things up even though his intentions are good.

At one point earlier this month Jets defenseman Ron Hainsey said that Fehr’s presence in any meeting with owners could be a “deal breaker”.

Bill Daly playing the role of Clark Griswold: Clark is fighting an uphill battle to try and salvage Christmas for his family. Even when his tree is destroyed and their holiday dinner is ruined, he presses on and tries to keep everyone’s spirits high.

It was just yesterday that Daly was asked if he still believes there would be a 2012-13 NHL season, and he said yes. With everything falling apart at the seams around him, Daly is still the optimist of the lockout bunch.

Gary Bettman playing the role of Frank Shirley: Shirley is Clark’s boss and decides to get rid of the annual Christmas bonus. This pushes Clark over the edge as he had already put a down payment on a pool he was hoping to get for the family with his bonus money. Eddie then proceeds to kidnap Shirley so he can explain his actions to Clark.

Bettman is the face of the owners and therefore takes the brunt of the criticism for the state the NHL is now in. He is not the entire cause of the lockout, but he’s the man in charge and perhaps the one best suited to end it.

Ultimately Shirley saves Christmas and gives Clark his bonus with an additional 20%, making the destruction in the Griswold house seem inconsequential. Let’s hope Bettman steps up with a plan or an idea that can save this NHL campaign.

Tags: Christmas Vacation NHL Lockout

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