SUN Hockey Pool

No NHL? Get a life

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

Two spellbinding facts have presented themselves to me with such force that I need to tell you all about them right away before I forget. First, 48% of all statistics you read in newspapers are made up on the spot. Did I say 48%. I meant 52%.

Statistically speaking, you are more likely to see Donald Trump shuck his comb-over this winter than one minute of NHL hockey.

While the latest round of failed talks between the NHL and its union has set off a deep malaise among hockey lovers, it has also spawned a quiet celebration among a few sports columnists, myself included.

You see, sports columnists are a lot like doctors in two important ways. First, people often become confused and irritable while trying to decipher what we have written. Second, 25 years or so years into the job, we're all getting a little tired of talking with people who are naked.

Doctors are lucky. A quarter century into their practice, they can afford to buy small Caribbean islands where the only naked people have at least some clothing on. Or maybe not.

Sportswriters, being of a somewhat different income stratum, hold off on retirement until the day they drop dead. It's hard to jam your golden years into the millisecond between your fatal heart attack and your forehead crashing into the keyboard. That said, some sportswriters are faster thinkers than others.

Anyway, I can't afford to retire but I still haven't seen a naked hockey player in going on nine months. I can tell you, I don't miss it, Not one little bit.

If you think about it, you can find plenty of advantages to a lockout, not just for sportswriters but for the general population, many of whom hold reasonable, productive and responsible jobs and have never been to jail or anything.

For one thing with no hockey, the cathartic effect of TV lights on Don Cherry's adrenal gland can't result in a guy who shouldn't even be given a remote control using the national airwaves to contradict everything you've ever taught your kids about racial stereotyping.

For another, you no longer need wait for intermission before getting cuddly with your significant other. The latest sex survey shows adult Canadians make love an average of 108 times a year and that's bound to go up. That's five whatevers over the global average, but nowhere near as much as the French (137 times), the Greeks (133), the Serbs and Montenegrans (131) and the Hungarians (131 times as well, but probably not always with the Serbs and Montenegrans. You have to admit though, it's quite a coincidence.)

If you have Maple Leafs season's tickets you can now afford:

A. one of those zero gravity shallow space flights, every week;

B. to commemorate everyone you've ever known in your life by buying and naming stars or even entire galaxies after them.

Use the extra time afforded by the lockout to take stock of your family life. By that I mean, count your kids. The parenting books are unanimous on this point: knowing how many kids you have is a great beginning if your goal is to re-insinuate yourself into their lives.

Freed from the demands of hockey, I have devoted new energy to the stuff that really matters to my kids.

The lockout has given us nearly limitless opportunities for self-improvement. Why not use the three hours between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. (3 1/2 hours in Newfoundland) to call everyone you wish you had parted with on better terms. If you have friends on the west coast, make it a doubleheader.

So cheer up hockey lovers. More than ever, people are using the lockout to build better relationships, tone their bodies and sharpen their minds. Two out of three people surveyed said so.


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