The “2012” part of the “2012-2013” NHL season is gone. There’s no doubt about that. Lost into oblivion by people that bear a striking resemblance to Charles Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge. There’s no bringing it back, nothing that can make up for it. But its ghost lives on in the minds of millions of fans.
Maybe this Christmas Eve night, its spirit will visit the Scrooges and introduce them to the Ghosts of NHL Past, Present, and Yet To Come.
The Ghost of NHL Past would show them how hockey seasons of the past persevered through long, disheartening wars long ago, and let them relive the excitement that the NHL offered to those depressed by plunging economies. It would walk them through the ’94-’95 lockout when hockey became more about business, when it began to focus on massive amounts of money rather than the fans and the spirit of the game.
The Ghost of NHL Present would reveal how passionate the fans really are about hockey by visiting college games and backyard rinks. They would be forced to listen to the anger and frustration – even pity – at the mention of the Scrooges’ names. In this story, maybe the Scrooges would be moved by how they have the ability to provide the fans with so much more, but are too stingy, with blinders of greed and ego that made hockey a business rather than an experience.
Then the Ghost of NHL Yet To Come would show the Scrooges the empty arenas of the future. With the owners and players unwilling reach an agreement, the lockout lasts years. At this point, the new would-be NHL stars have better sense than to aspire to play in the National League that has yet to sort out its mess. The new stars thrill audiences in juniors and minors – which by now have become the majors of hockey. The old players and owners – and their representatives – are despised for killing off the thirty NHL teams and the beloved Original Six. Finally, the NHL is disbanded, and the fans just laugh. Like they still cared.
Obviously, what the NHL and Players’ Association do in the present will affect the future. The past is gone and can’t be changed. They can’t make up for it as quickly as Ebenezer did, but they can definitely change the course that the league is on!
Even though we have the unconverted versions of Scrooge running the NHL right now, we can remember the meaning of hockey this year. We can reflect on the history and tradition of the sport as well as our own friendships and rivalries revolving around the game. And let’s hope the Scrooges wake up sometime soon and come to their senses, because otherwise future is bleak!
What do you think is in the future for the NHL?