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September, 2012

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

The NHL Lockout: The Musical [Act I, Scene I - “Up to Here”]

Yes, you read the title correctly, I’ve decided to write a half assed musical version of the 2012 NHL Lockout. The reasons for this are not simply that I am unemployed with too much time on my hands, but also that I have an active imagination, and pretty much can’t listen to any music without immediately setting a story to it. Ask my friends about getting trapped in the car with me, if you want to learn more about that. Anyway, tonight The Tragically Hip’s Boots or Hearts came on my iPod, and I couldn’t stop picturing Bettman and Fehr singing a duet to it. So, I’ve decided to put together a shitty, yet all-Hip, NHL musical for you to enjoy as CBA negotiations drag on. In Act I, Scene I we revisit all the events that have happened since the Lockout of 2004 ended. Enjoy! P.S. Yes, I know this isn’t “proper format.” P.P.S. You will have to use your imagination.

Craig Patrick approaches the podium at the centre of the stage, and taps the microphone twice to test it before speaking.

Patrick: On behalf of Mario Lemieux and the entire ownership group, Pittsburgh Penguins select, from Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior League, Sidney Crosby…

Music begins, New Orleans is Sinking. A news reporter and Kanye West enter at opposing ends of the stage. They sashay across the stage and exit at opposite ends after delivering their respective lines.

News Reporter 1: Katrina has been upgraded to a category 5 storm. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, has issued a mandatory evacuation…

Kanye West: George Bush doesn’t care about black people…

Mike Myers chases after him with a horrified look on his face.

A giant NHL logo descends from the rafters. Gary Bettman hops off.

Bettman (singing): All right…

Bettman skips off into the background.

Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire enter at opposing ends of the stage and meet in front of the giant logo.

Gord: CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?!?!? THE ANAHEIM DUCKS ARE THE STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!

Pierre: Yes, I can…

Gord gives Pierre his usual look of contempt.

Gord (under his breath): Soccer Mom…

The two exit Stage Left.

Bettman begins pirouetting around the giant NHL logo and sporadically attempts to fondle the air above his head.

Bettman (singing): Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete. Under skies all smoky blue green. I can’t forsake a dixie dead shake. So we danced the sidewalk clean.

Dollar bills begin to rain down onto the stage. Bettman tries to catch as many as he can.

Bettman (singing): My memory is muddy. What’s this river that I’m in? New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim.

Barack Obama and Sean Avery sashay across the stage from opposing ends.

Obama: Yes… We… Can…

Avery: I just wanted to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds…

Obama and Avery exit. The NHL owners appear from behind the logo. Jeffrey Vinik and Mario Lemieux flank themselves around Bettman.

Vinik (singing): Colonel Tom, what’s wrong? What’s going on? You can’t tie yourself up for a deal.

Lemieux (singing): He said, Hey, north, you’re south! Shut your big mouth. You gotta do what you feel is real.

Bettman breaks free from their cunning grasps.

Bettman (singing): Ain’t got no picture postcards. Ain’t got no souvenirs. My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking ‘bout those years.

Bettman gazes longingly across the stage. His prized cash cow, Sidney Crosby, has materialized there. Crosby looks to the rafters in his usual bewilderment.

Jeremy Roenick shimmies across the stage with 3 news reporters, entering and exiting at opposing ends.

News Reporter 2: Canadian Tycoon, Jim Balsillie, has released blueprints for a remodeled Copps Coliseum, the would-be home of the future Hamilton Coyotes…

News Reporter 3: Riots have broken out in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the Boston Bruins…

News Reporter 4: The National Hockey League announced today that the Jets will be returning to Winnipeg this fall…

Roenick: I’m still confused how our country will get better with another four years of incompetence…

Bill Daly enters from Stage Right and kneels at Bettman’s feet.

Daly (singing): Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire. Sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire. Picking out the highlights of the scenery. Saw a little cloud that looked a little like me.

Bettman kicks Daly away and begins dancing once more.

Bettman (singing): I had my hands in the river. My feet back up on the banks. Looked up to the lord above and said, Hey, man, thanks! Sometimes I feel so good I got to scream. She said…

Bettman and Crosby (singing together): Gary, baby, I know exactly what you mean.

Bettman (singing): She said. She said. I swear to god she said!

Bettman begins twirling.

Bettman (singing): OOOOWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAANOOOOOW

The entire cast rushes the stage (players, fans, arena employees, etc).

All (singing): My memory is muddy. What’s this river that I’m in? New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim.

Bettman begins running frantically to various people on the stage.

Bettman (singing): Swim!

News Reporter 1: Isaac is set to make landfall in New Orleans on the 7th anniversary of Katrina…

News Reporter 2: The current CBA will expire on September 15, 2012. Both sides are still far apart..

Bettman keeps running until everyone has left the stage. He is alone and breathless. He pants heavily as the curtain closes.

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Monday, September 17th, 2012

The NHL Lockout is here (again), so what’s to become of our beloved players?

Japan (still) We all remember what happened 8 years ago when the NHL locked out. Players moved on to various leagues around the world, and some went into premature (and sometimes only half serious) retirement while pursuing other ventures. I was in university at the time, and the St. George campus at the University of Toronto was all a flutter with Eric Lindros sightings. The “Next One” had taken to studying history and economics, if memory serves me well, during the Lockout of ’04. I remember being personally shocked, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this, when Lindros signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs immediately following the work stoppage. As a Leafs fan I was horrified, as he had really put on that old Freshman 15, and seemed grossly out of shape by NHL standards, but whatever, I’m a judgmental bitch.

Anyway, even in 2004 I remember thinking that the NHL players, who were in battle over the implementation of the salary cap, looked really unsupportive of their fellow union members by taking off to Europe for the 2004-05 season. It was kind of like saying, “Yeah, well, I don’t give a fuck about my NHL job, because I have this other job.” My opinion on this matter has not changed, as we are now beginning to see NHL stars taking off to Europe since the 2012-13 work stoppage has been declared official.

Now, obviously in a real world workers’ strike situation, those who are less fortunate (or simply just felt compelled to do so) may go off and find other jobs to support their families, etc. But if that’s the case, it looks pretty fucking shitty to just waltz back into the office/factory/wherever X-number of months/years later, and just reclaim their position, when their fellow union members were there sweating it out on the streets, picketing day in and day out, and not being paid a dime. Of course, the harsh reality is that more often than not these “little people” are simply replaced by a fresh crop of workers.

NHL players have a lot more leverage than your average civilian. They know that they are the best in the world at their jobs, and that the NHL simply cannot replace them without jeopardizing the talent pools, and the quality of the NHL product for a good several years to come. NHL players have also been paid ridiculous salaries leading up to the Lockout, so with the exception of those irresponsible players who either drank, snorted, and/or fucked their millions away, I think they (and their families) will be just fine for a fews months (or a season) without a paycheck.

Oh, but “everyone is entitled to make a living.” Yeah, OK, maybe in the real world. But like I just said, NHL players have more leverage than most work strikers. All that playing in Europe (until play in the NHL resumes) is going to achieve is to send a big FUCK YOU to the rest of the NHLPA, and a TOUGH SHIT to the players in the European leagues, who are not as well off financially as the guys playing in the NHL to begin with, by stealing their jobs. Why? Because they are bored? Or so they can buy another Range Rover for their collection? And it has to be said… Just a matter of days ago the NHLPA was spouting off all that “United We Stand” bullshit. Yeah, if that’s true, then stand to-fucking-gether.

I’m pretty sure the fans would rather see the players working proactively to end the Lockout, than fleeing to Europe.

I will say that I am personally impressed with leagues like the Swedish Eliteserien, which decided to prohibit locked out NHL players from signing with them for less than the entirety of the 2012-13 season. I think this is quite significant, as most people believe the Lockout of 2012 will be a short one (although, now I’m not quite as convinced as I was a few weeks ago, but that’s another story), and NHL players are unlikely to take the plunge and commit to a full year, especially if they could potentially go back to their cushy NHL lives in a month or two. Naturally, the SEL would stand to profit by big name NHLers drawing new, NHL sized crowds this year, so I really applaud them for this movement.

Now maybe I’m a hypocrite, but I do consider the American Hockey League to be an exception to the rule. The AHL is a feeder league. Developing NHL players come and go with regularity, and the players, who aren’t fortunate enough to be in the NHL system, are often reassigned to the AHL feeder clubs in the ECHL or Central League. This happens whether there is an NHL Lockout or not. Now, obviously, there will be greater displacement for the borderline AHLers this season. However, missing a season to Lockout would actually be seriously damaging to the development of the young future stars of professional hockey, who likely would have played a portion of 2012-13 in the A anyway, I might add. Obviously a seasoned and well paid NHL veteran is in an entirely different boat… I mean… yacht… Playing in Europe is purely superficial, but I suppose that’s true for most things in the life of today’s NHL player…

Countdown to Hockey Land return: 11 days!

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