If one was to look at today’s newspaper headlines, they might think that NHL hockey had not ceased to exist the past few months. Each of the Canadian national news agencies this morning have stories claiming that any day Roberto Luongo will be dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Other than the normal cynicism regarding what fans should do to punish the NHL for the sins of depriving them a consumer product for upwards of three months, most of the local headlines have been a positive relief. The less Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr we get the next few months, the better. Go one step further, cue up one of those ridiculous Brendan Shanahan supplemental discipline videos, it will be like the lockout never happened.
On a national note, at least in the United States, this feels like it will be a good thing. The last several months have been odd with all of the animosity between the two sides of this “labor dispute”, venom seething over into the camps of defenders of both the American corporation as well as the supporters of organized labor. Every now and then, at least for me personally, a good hockey game can fix the worst day. On December 14th, I know a hockey game would have gone a long way to easing me to sleep, as opposed to uncontrollable tears. On the personal side, there are many more of those days that angrily watching the Toronto Maple Leafs would have been a better alternative to dealing with whatever crisis I felt confronted with.
Today word came that the hockey community is getting that back, and to that I say fantastic. In a United States that is now dominated by angst and hatred, a little less gun legislation and fiscal cliff debate in exchange for the best hockey on earth seems fair. For those wanting fans to be angry and vindictive, that hardly seems necessary. A few months to bargain a contract is hardly worth permanently punishing an organization that runs one of the best charity campaigns in “hockey fights cancer” each year. This is also the same group that is responsible for the Do It For Daron foundation addressing depression and suicide, the You Can Play project which encourages inclusion in sports and works to fight off traditional stereotypes of homosexuality. These guys are flawed, but they are good people.
The truth is we all have moments that we are not particularly proud of, should we be forever exiled for them? The NHL is as good at labor relations as Vesa Toskala was as a starting goaltender. For everything that they do wrong, they do a million more things right. And as for forgiveness, here’s betting that January 19th will go a long way to show how upset fans are over the stoppage, and this guy is laying odds that all will be forgiven.