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Hosers

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Some fans are delighted the National Hockey League's lockout is over.

After more than a hundred days, the greedheads who own National Hockey League franchises have finally reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association.

I've been a hockey fan for almost 40 years. You could precede the phrase "hockey fan" with words like avid, obsessive, and devoted. I love the game.

I should say "loved" the game. Not anymore. The long layoff gave me a chance to find other activities that are more enjoyable than watching hockey on television. When I first started watching the game, it had speed, flow, grace and beauty. The sport as it is now played is boring. Last season, I don't think I watched all three periods of any game, not even in the playoffs.

National Hockey League hockey will be back soon in a rink near you. I have just one prediction to make about the upcoming shortened season: lots of groin injuries from players being out of skating shape.

But who cares?

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
sahlah
Jan. 7th, 2013 02:57 am (UTC)
The entire nation north of us... :)
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 7th, 2013 04:31 am (UTC)
There's a lot of bitterness north of the border. A lot. Of course, it could just be an excuse to avoid watching the Maple Leafs.
sahlah
Jan. 7th, 2013 02:30 pm (UTC)
It's in Canadian DNA though - there is no life without hockey. Are they mad enough to start a different league?
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 7th, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC)
I think more damage to the NHL brand has occurred in Canada than in the U.S. Visit tsn.com and take a look at some of the fan comments after lockout-related stories. In the U.S., hockey isn't even a major sport; it appeals to niche markets, so I don't think the damage has been as extensive here.
theoldsport
Jan. 7th, 2013 05:34 am (UTC)
I'm with you, pjv. During the previous lockout/CBA debacle, I remember both sides harping on the idea that missing an entire season was a necessity, and the owners and players planned to "fix" the game and bring it back better than ever.

How did they make it better? The shootout (the most gimmicky of all sports gimmicks) and another lockout less than a decade later. But, hey, let's cram 50 games of sloppy, reckless hockey into 12 weeks and absolve everything (or suck some more money out of the desperate fanbase).

I still love the game. I'll still tune in, but it's just not the same.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 7th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the shootout—I think Stu Hackel over at si.com refers to it as the post-game skills competition. It's no way to decide the outcome of a game. I don't care for regular season overtime, either, because it makes playoff overtime less special. I say play 60 minutes, two points for a win and one for a tie.

I will not follow hockey at all this season: no daily reading about the Bruins in the Boston Globe, no reading Stu Hackel every day, no more checking tsn.com. I'm finished.
thenightfly5150
Jan. 7th, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
Couldn't agree more. The league lacks a certain charisma and personality post-2005. It's not the game I grew up with, and it's certainly not the game my father grew up with. It's been neutered -- the league sold out for ratings on an obscure sports network and now caters to a new viewership to line its pockets. Rule changes, maybe even a "culture" change if you want to go that far.

I think back to last year's Stanley Cup Finals. Boring. So, so boring. I don't think I watched more than a game or two, and even then, I was only half-paying attention to any of it.

Will I watch this season? I'd be lying if I said "no." But there's no way I'm scheduling my life around games the way I did before. Maybe it's due to the lockout. Maybe I'm just growing older. Who knows.

Ever since the B's won the cup, I feel like my fandom has subsided. Not completely. But enough.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 7th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
Right you are, Alex. One of my most vivid hockey memories involved the Flyers and Islanders playing a big game back in the early '70s. Rick MacLeish got sent in alone from outside the zone, and as he skated in, his black hair was flowing behind him. Lafleur used to play like that too, zigging through players in the offensive zone with such skill that it looked like he was moving in a strobe light. Hell, there were so many speed demons back then; the game had a flow and grace that made it a treat to watch teams like Montreal—even, begrudgingly, as they took the Bruins apart in the playoffs each year.

Now the game is clutching, grabbing—"neutered" is a good way to describe it. Clean breakaways are uncommon. And the power plays? Almost a stereotype: dump the puck into the corner, send someone in to dig it out, and feed the point for shots. Did you ever see video of the Stastnys on a power play? They were like surgeons: crisp, clean passes: tic-tac-toe. And they played between the circles, not in the corners and at the points.

Those days will never come back. I was a huge pro basketball fan in high school and college. Now I don't even follow the game. I'll be able to do the same with hockey pretty easily.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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