GettyHello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
You know when a player who really loves his team and city gets traded, and he gives an emotional speech about how sometimes you forget hockey is a business, and that sometimes makes it unpleasant?
Let this lockout be a lesson that the same goes for fans.
During that 113-day ordeal, you were repeatedly condescended to, taken advantage of, and lied to, by both sides of the argument. But never forget that the contents of your wallet, like one of the podded-up humans in The Matrix, are nothing but fuel for a machine that cruelly exploits you.
As of this writing, I know of just a handful of NHL teams that actually took the time to come out and apologize to its hundreds of thousands of fans for the nearly four months of torture through which it just put them. Calgary Flames president Ken King issued a statement more or less as soon as the tentative deal was announced.
"We're sorry," King said. "We regret what we've put them through. It's just something that you would never, ever, want to put them through. It's difficult saying that it was unnecessary, but it's something you would never, ever want to do with your core constituents."
The Sharks and Blues both expressed their own regrets, while some teams, like the Capitals, Flyers, Canucks, Penguins, Coyotes, Wild, Kings, Bruins, and Stars issued statements or held pressers or conference calls about how great it is that the league is back — especially for the fans!!! — but not once mentioning how sorry they were about it (though the Oilers came close).
Sorry, but this kind of apology should come standard-issue from all 30 teams, especially those like the Flames and Bruins, who certainly led the charge for a lockout despite having massive fanbases, popularity, and most importantly, war chests.
Never forget this was a lockout. Never forget this was put upon you and the players and the sport by the owners. Never forget the two biggest engines in all this weren't poor, put-upon teams in tough markets, but rather financial giants whose sole motivation was greed and the desire to squeeze just an extra dime or two out of every dollar spent. They certainly accomplished their goal.
The fact that as far as I can tell the majority of the league's 30 teams haven't so much as considered apologizing is beyond irrational. Obviously, not every team wanted this lockout to happen, but those that stood idly by, hands in their pockets, while Gary Bettman, Jeremy Jacobs, Murray Edwards, and the rest of their villainous cohorts did this are as guilty through their inaction as any actual negative actors in this process.
They should be down on their hands and knees, groveling for the fans to return to their arenas to buy seats and concessions and jerseys after all this. Everything should be half-price. Every purchase should come with the warmest "thank you" imaginable. But of course, they don't. Because the league doesn't give a rat's ass about its fans, no matter how much free Center Ice they throw at us.
Oh yeah, fans are excited to have the NHL back in their lives and, if you like hockey, you can't really blame them. I know many fans have already started buying tickets in a blind scramble to turn over more of their money to the oligarchs who just robbed them of their favorite sport for four months, and I know that all across the league, games will be played before packed houses sometime in the next few weeks. It disgusts me, obviously, but that's the way of the world. I'm sure the "Thank You (Again) Fans!" that's painted at both blue lines will more than make up for it. That's bridge-building for the NHL in 2013.
This league, which seems content to have itself reduced to a national sports punchline every seven or eight years (clock's ticking on that opt-out work stoppage!), has never cared about you, and will do so. Not really. Not as long as you're willing to throw wads of cash at it the second it gives you what it should have been giving you all along.
Everyone's giddy now. Many have lost any sense of reality they had throughout the process. I still can't believe I'm seeing legitimate hockey reporters — and not just the dummies in the owners' pockets — saying stuff about how the NHL gave the Players' Association concessions at the 12th hour.
Did it really? Almost everything the players once had still got rolled back, just not as much as the NHL would have liked. They didn't make concessions, they backed off absurd demands only when a federal mediator told them to stop being ridiculous, and even then, it took a pair of back-to-back days of 13 to 16 hours. That's near-indomitable malevolent will, eroded on a timeline not dissimilar what desert sands do to the pyramids.
This joyous celebration of hockey's return will only cause the owners to double down on their resolve next time around. They now know, absolutely and unequivocally, that they can treat you like garbage, not even think about apologizing for it, and you'll still cut them a blank check every single year.
That is, unless you remember how October, November and December felt. How mad it made you. How the vote to lock out the players for the second time since 2004-05 came unanimously. How the owners lied to you at every opportunity about Donald Fehr's intractability. How they used so-called "moderates" to defame him with absurd press releases. How they had the gall to compare him to a suicide bomber because he would not let the union be broken by their demands. How their steadfastness that the CBA needed to provide better protection for all 30 teams came without a meaningful improvement to revenue sharing. How they tried to move the goalposts the second the NHLPA's ability to file a disclaimer of interest expired. And especially how you swore you'd never give them another cent of your hard-earned dollars.
Or enjoy the 2020-21 lockout. It's really up to you.
What We Learned
Boston Bruins: Today is Day No. 35 since Steve Burton of WBZ in Boston said the lockout could be over in two days, and was only off by 32. Good job, buddy. Anyway, Andrew Ference, who was in the final negotiations for the new CBA, really feels bad about all this.
Buffalo Sabres: The Rochester Americans heading to Abbotsford gave the Vancouver media another chance to pick at Cody Hodgson less than a year after the Canucks traded him to Buffalo. For some weird reason, he didn't feel all that willing to answer their questions about his old team.
Calgary Flames: Sven Baertschi really cannot wait to play with American gold medalist and Flames prospect Johnny Gaudreau. Awesome quote: "During camp and stuff, when we had these scrimmages, I always played against him, and I hated it. He was just weaseling around out there. You try to find him sometimes, and it's just like, 'oh, where is he?' And then there he is. He scores."
GettyCarolina Hurricanes: Tuomo Ruutu's recent hip injury will keep him out until May at least. The sad thing is, with this shortened schedule bringing chaos to the standings I can't even make the requisite, "Just in time to hit the golf course," jokes that you'd normally associate with the Hurricanes.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Two players from the Columbus area were on the gold medal-winning U.S. World Junior team and played for the AAA Blue Jackets before going on to the OHL and NCAA hockey, but please tell me more about how expansion to non-traditional hockey markets has been bad for hockey in America.
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: Oh god I just realized the amount of whining we'll have to hear from the Wings about how much travel they have to do in a truncated, compacted schedule. That's gonna be insufferable.
Edmonton Oilers: Even having all these good players and stuff, the Oilers still won't have anything like an easy time making the playoffs. I say go for 30th in the league one more time and get True American Hero Seth Jones first overall.
Florida Panthers: He scored the two biggest goals of his career in the gold medal game, but Rocco Grimaldi getting a B+ for his World Junior performance after being dropped from the first line, then benched, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Los Angeles Kings: Anze Kopitar went and injured his knee about 12 hours before the lockout ended and is now out two or three weeks. Total bummer.
Minnesota Wild: "Will the fans return to support the Minnesota Wild?" The answer is, "Yes, but they shouldn't." Leads me to wonder a little bit whether the Suter and Parise signings were in any way intended as a deterrent for fans to become disinterested in the team as a result of the lockout.
Nashville Predators: The Preds say they're pretty excited to be coming back but boy do they have a lot of questions that need answering. First and foremost: Can Roman Josi even come close to taking Ryan Suter's place?
New Jersey Devils: Weirdly, Lou Lamoriello didn't hold any of the NHL Devils' players out of the Albany Devils' game yesterday, as Edmonton did with Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle, and Minnesota did the night before with Mikael Granlund.
New York Rangers: It kind of bewilders me how the Rangers have more than $5 million to work with under the cap and are still this good on paper. On the other hand, this summer they'll need to re-up Stepan, Hagelin, and McDonagh. That won't be easy.
Ottawa Senators: Erik Karlsson left his Finnish team in late December, but I didn't see until yesterday that he put 17 shots toward net in nearly 27 minutes of ice time in a five-point game. SEVENTEEN shot attempts. He also ended his 30-game season for Jokerit with 248 shot attempts. What is even going on?
Phoenix Coyotes: Today is Day No. 150 since Jude LaCava of Fox 10 in Arizona said Greg Jamison would have the deal for the Coyotes sewn up within the next five days. Speaking of which, does the end of the lockout mean that Greg Jamison will actually be able to buy the team now?
San Jose Sharks: Turns out Brent Burns might not be available when the season starts due to the fact that he still hasn't recovered from a sports hernia and groin injury that he played through for most of last season.
St. Louis Blues: Big ups to Andy McDonald for saying he's "embarrassed" to tell people he's an NHL player. It's a pretty embarrassing league, for sure.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Syracuse Crunch, whose roster won the Calder Cup last year as the Norfolk Admirals, made their first return to their old city, and swept the home team 3-0 and 4-3. Sucks for Norfolk fans.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Here's Kenny Ryan scoring on a ridiculous individual effort. Kenny Ryan, by the way? American as the day is long.
Washington Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom has a neck injury. Dmitry Orlov has been out with an upper body injury since early December, Michal Neuvirth and Roman Hamrlik trash-talked the union, and Alex Ovechkin is probably fat as hell now that he's engaged. Any other problems for the Capitals?
Play of the Weekend
I could watch this goal all day long. Sea to shining sea, baby.
Gold Star Award
APAmerica. Gold. As it should be.
Minus of the Weekend
APWhen you can't even win Canadian Gold in the bronze medal game, why even bother having a team?
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "MISC" has all your Luongo-related issues sorted.
Today my life enters phase two: the GOOD years!