The Stanley Cup hasn’t even been hoisted to signify the end of the 2011-12 NHL season, yet the threat of a seemingly imminent lockout this September is already worrying hockey fans across the planet. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that the lockout of 2004-05 was devastating. Back then fans were in a panic over the future of the NHL. It seemed like a real possibility that the NHL was headed for a collapse, and even the old World Hockey Association announced their plans for revival. Yes, the lockout ruined my life, but the one redeeming aspect of it was that the American Hockey League was the most exciting it had been in a long time, as its rosters were overrun with displaced NHL talent.
This year I have a differing opinion of the looming lockout. I no longer see it as something to be feared, but rather something to be embraced. One year before our last lockout, I began writing a book on puck bunny culture in hockey. I did so because the more I discovered about the underworld of hockey, the more it horrified me. But even through all the tales of gang bangs and blow job rosters, I never became quite as disgusted with the players of hockey until the uprising of Twitter.
Over the last few years we have been subjected to the hockey players of the world rubbing the noses of their blue collar fans in all their privileged dealings in VIP lounges, and luxury car dealerships. Fortunately, for the players, that is, most fans are brainless, jock sniffing, puck bunnying kiss asses that respond with nothing but praise to all of their putrid 140 character diarrhea. However, many of us, at least those of us with brain cells, have already begun to question our reasons for paying attention to hockey players anywhere but on the ice.
Hockey players as a collective use Twitter to their own detriment. Yes, fans are interested in how you run your day to day lives, but that means they want to be reminded of the ways that you, the great hockey gods, are just like them. Instead hockey players choose to constantly remind their fans about how much “better” they are than them by posting a barrage of photos illustrating how they party with celebrities, sun themselves on expensive boats with their mass produced, plastic sex doll girlfriends, or booze in clubs that the bouncers would never grant us access to.
To me these actions point to rampant insecurities. Hockey players seem to be putting on an act more than ever before. They date the same girl, they splash their money around in the same way that much higher paid celebrities do, and they put themselves on pedestals above the fans when they interact with them because they need to constantly enforce their higher status. In other words, the hockey players of Twitter basically demand our love and admiration while they shove the cock of their superiority down our throats. “Love me, but don’t you dare think we’re on the same level.”
The thing the players don’t realize is that the fans already revere them for being the elite few that could make it to the NHL without having to be constantly reminded of this by the players themselves. Yeah, we KNOW you have more money than us! We KNOW you have more opportunities than us, and drive better cars than us! We don’t have to be reminded of this every time you switch on your Twitter machine. Back in the good old days, fans were able to live in the dark. Sure, they knew that the offseason was unlikely to pass without a player making the news for a scandalous night in some sort of VIP venue, but they didn’t have to deal the players’ sense of entitlement all day, every day. However, in the NHL of 2012, we can’t escape this kind of shit. Even if we do our part to unfollow the players (which I did), we still have to deal with their tweets making headlines in newspapers and on sports news broadcasts. Seriously, why does this shit pass for news now?
Anyway, now we are facing another potential lockout, and over the summer (and perhaps even into 2013), we will have all the stats and figures thrown at us regarding the players’ ridiculous salaries. After 3+ years of look-at-me tweets by hockey players flashing their money in our faces, these guys have successfully ensured that they will have one less thing going for them during this year’s negotiations – our sympathy. So, I expect there will be quite a few more disgruntled fans if the NHL locks out this year than there was 8 years ago. I mean even I question continuing my support of the NHL when I know that my hard earned money is essentially going towards buying another spoiled hockey player a new car, or his gold-digging girlfriend maintenance on her boob job. No thanks.
Part of me is looking forward to not having hockey to deal with for a season. Not that it really matters to me, since I’m in Japan, and all. But I think the time off from the NHL would be good to subdue the beast that Twitter has created. Maybe some time off will remind the hockey players that they are being paid to be, well, hockey players, and not online celebrities. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, I just really hate fakeness and bullshit, but don’t worry, I’m not going to go on a killing spree or anything. I just think players need to remember that there are millions of people out there that would have given anything to have been drafted to the NHL, or to have dressed for an NHL game, even if they never set foot on the ice. I’m sure every good Canadian boy would jump at the opportunity to play in the NHL for free – fancy cars, and blonde brigade hoes be damned! Anyway, it would be nice if the players seemed (authentically) grateful once in awhile for the fans that have sacrificed large portions of their bank book to keep them in the yachts and Armani that they have so grown accustomed. After all, without us, they wouldn’t have jobs.