22 July 2005

The Puck Starts Here

It's official, albeit a few days belated...the NHL is back.

The Blues (and Hockey) are back in town.

In the words and wonderful flair of Desi Arnaz....Juz got some 'splaining to doo!!

It's been a few days since the news came down, with nearly 90 percent of the players ratifying the new collective bargaining agreement today.

That said, I'm really torn on the whole damn thing.

Happy that my beloved Blues will skate once again...though it may not always be in the Lou...more on that here.

Pissed that the league, its commissioner, owners, players and their union dissed their fans in a sport that already freefalling in popularity and revenue.

I can't help but think that boycotting this whole thing is the way to go, that we fans would letting these guys off the hook by slinking back to the rink.

Who am I kidding? I love the sport too much for that. I'm like the loving dad whose kid is always screwing up, getting in trouble with the cops and whatnot. It's not constructive, but I love the damn kid too much.

Plus, even if the owners don't live up to "re-selling the game" by lowering ticket prices, at least I know that the players will pick up the slack.

In addition, it'll help tremendously that most sought-after amateur since Gretzky enters the draft this year, with every team getting their chance for an instant superstar.

That's the beauty of the game. That's why the fans keep coming back.

That's why in Columbus, without a loyal fanbase fit to support any pro sport team, hockey is the only game in town with a consistent fanbase and a great track record. Sure, they've fallen on hard times...but, even after making their 2nd league change in 3 years, they're still here.

That's why the most revered sports figure in town isn't just a baseball player (I'm looking at you, Frank Thomas).
It's a gritty, hard-nosed goon from Canada named Boom Boom, who turned a minor league hockey career into a love affair with a southern town that loves their hockey and their Cottonmouths.

It'll take some time...gettng the game back on its skates. The die-hard fans will find it hard to stay away.

I worry mostly about the new markets in the South (Atlanta, Florida, Carolina). The Thrashers continue to do things the right way, and with the new league structure, figure to be a major Cup contender this year.

Perhaps that the way to their hearts down South.
Build a winner, build a fanbase.
It worked for the Cottonmouths.
It did wonders for the Braves.
Could the Thrashers be the next NHL success? With cornerstones like Dany Heatley, Ilya Kolvachuk, and superstar rookie netminder Kari Lehtonen, all signs point to yes,

If there's anything that this town has taught me, the future looks bright.

The ice may seldom grace the Southern winters, but if you're hard-working, loyal, and can make a tedious sport exciting...the fans will come back.

Time to drop the puck, boys. This time, let's keep it clean....stay out of the penalty box.

The fans need you on the ice.
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