CALGARY - The latest in a string of sleep-inducing press releases from the National Hockey League announced Thursday the first two weeks of the regular season have been cancelled.
Apparently, there is some sort of labour strife going on, and the result is that well over 9,000 people will now be denied their summer-long dream of watching the New York Islanders host the Buffalo Sabres or the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Florida Panthers.
It’s a shame too because you can bet dozens more had penciled the highly-anticipated Dallas Stars/Phoenix Coyotes matchup into their plans, unless, of course, they’ve got a tee-time that day instead.
The press release was kept to three sentences for fear even the staunchest of scribes would nod off.
After weeks of mind-numbing rhetoric, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly actually had it right Thursday when he pointed out, “The game deserves better, the fans deserve better and the people who derive income from their connection to the NHL deserve better,” Daly said.
He went on to say, “We remain committed to doing everything in our power to forge blah blah blah, blah blah blah and blah blah blah.”
At least, that’s how I heard it.
My guess is that’s the way most fans have been hearing it for weeks, too.
The NHL has gone from whiteouts to white noise in five months.
Just let us know when you fix it.
Until then, the conversation in cafes, bars, living rooms and offices that used to revolve around which side is more to blame has essentially made like Kristian Huselius and disappeared.
It has been replaced with apathy — the most dangerous fallout from all this.
The masses in hockey-mad Calgary have tuned it out and could care less right now about the game we call our own.
Just imagine how all this is playing out south of the border, where, for the most part, the NHL has been ignored anyway.
So go ahead Krys Barch — grab another dozen Old Viennas by the fire and tweet until your broken heart is content: Few are listening anymore.
Right or wrong, the owners are being bullies because they can.
Clearly the onus is on the players to swallow hard and realize the owners have enough leverage to ensure third-line wingers who make US$3 million a year will likely have to live on $2.5 million moving forward.
Sad, but true.
None of that matters to fans anymore as the league is currently as relevant and popular as The Office.
“If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue,” said union leader Donald Fehr.
“A lockout should be the last resort, blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah. Blah.”
The announcement set off another predictable, tired wave of players teeing off on Gary Bettman, reiterating again that because he never played the game he must not care about its welfare.
Get some new material, lads.
“Blah blah blah,” said Toews.
It’s all so 2004.
Ask 100 locals if they’d be upset if the result was the same as eight years ago when the Stanley Cup wasn’t handed out, and 90+ will tell you they no longer care. The 10 who do likely have some sort of skin in the game, meaning they stand to lose money every night the Flames don’t play.
Both the owners and the players appear united in their fronts, but it’s evident the most consolidated group is the fanbase that agrees wholeheartedly all this nonsense is no longer worth its time or energy.
After all, this just seems to keep happening.
Given the rampant indifference in town, it would be surprising if many had the stomach to read this far as it all seems blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah.