Somebody help! I’m stranded on a deserted island
Dear diary: Day 54.I’m still marooned in this hockeyless wasteland and I’m growing more frustrated each day that passes that my prayers will not be answered anytime soon.I haven’t watched a hockey game since Sept. 14, when Canada beat Finland 3-2 for the World Cup of Hockey trophy. Ever since, I’ve been gazing at a barren horizon, looking for the next game, yet there is no wind in the sails. So far, I’ve watched 26 days of the NHL season – scheduled to begin Oct. 13 – come and go without a single player hitting the ice. In that time, I’ve missed 168 games.To add insult to injury, the gods declared there would be no All-Star game this year either.
Now the only pronouncement left to come from the almighty heavens is that this winter, there will be no hockey at all.Oh, don’t be fooled, hockey is being played. From minor leagues to college teams to local shenanigans at the Steve, it’s being played. But the oh-so mysterious box of flashing sports pictures that normally brings me the NHL each winter is apparently not interested in those forms of the world’s greatest sport.The outlook is bleak, to say the least. When the grand master himself – NHL commissioner Gary Bettman – says, “the season is likely to slip away,” chances are, the season is likely to slip away.And that’s exactly what he told the media when he ix-nayed the All-Star game on Wednesday.
Over and over I ask myself, “Is this really happening?”Are the players and the owners really squabbling over money?Are we going to lose the entire season because the owners want a salary cap and the players don’t? Is half the league really playing in Europe right now?Can it really be that the NHL did not learn any lessons when baseball lost most of its fan base when MLB players walked out on August 12, 1994, and scrapped that year’s World Series?The simple answer to these questions is “yes.”
The complicated answer has me stranded on a desert isle trying to make sense of the varied information that comes out of both sides. The NHL lockout is not the same as the baseball strike, to be sure. The lockout was imposed by the owners, as opposed to the players going on strike. But seeing as the NHL Players Association and representatives for the owners haven’t even spoken about establishing legitimate negotiations since Sept. 9, there’s no hope in sight. Tomorrow will be Day 55.Richard Chittick has an Associated Press wire feed on the island he is stranded on and used it for this column. He can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236 or at email@example.com.
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