Written by: Boot Bullwinkle
As the frost freezes over on the windshields of Bay Area citizens, so does the ice at HP Pavilion, the home of the San Jose Sharks. Across America and Canada, hockey fans rejoiced on Jan. 3 as the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout came to an end.
After coming to the realization that professional soccer was on a downward slope of commercialism and embellished fouls (David Beckham, I’m looking at you), I fell in love with the sport of the Great North.
The fast-paced play combined with the ice-breaking hits keep me riveted to the game, and I try to attend at least 12 games a year. That is, until this year.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NHL Board of Governors and the NHL Player Association (NHLPA) expired on Sept. 9, a month before the puck was supposed to drop for the 2012-2013 season.
The two sides exchanged petty arguments in a competition of stubbornness and petulance as NHL fans sacrificed 113 days and a total of 625 regular season games. The NHL All-Star Weekend scheduled for Jan. 26 through 27 in Columbus, Ohio, was cancelled and so was the outdoor game known as the Winter Classic. Things seemed bleak as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Jan. 3 that if a deal wasn’t reached by Jan. 12, the entire season would be cancelled.
But as I prepared to go into hockey hibernation for the second NHL lockout in seven years, the unthinkable happened as the NHL Board of Governors and the NHLPA reached and ratified a new 10-year CBA.
The abbreviated regular season (48 games compared to the normal 82) began on Jan. 19 as the Los Angeles Kings raised their recently-acquired Stanley Cup banner to the rafters at Staples Center. The San Jose Sharks started off very well with a 4-1 dousing of the Calgary Flames Jan. 20, and they finished off the sweep of Alberta, handling the Edmonton Oilers. I’m too blinded by my love of hockey to be mad at the league, and after all the opening ceremonies and festivities, my anger and anguish were quickly dissolved.
I have never played a game of hockey in my entire life. The closest I have ever come to it is physical education hockey and ice skating. And yet, it hasn’t diminished my love for watching the sport.
Nevertheless, hockey has been my favorite sport for many years. Its fast pace combined with its offensive and defensive tactics make it a very strategical game. And then there’s the oh-so-awe-inspiring fact that 6’ 6”, 265 lbs. men with beards hit each other on ice skates. They score, they defend, they hit and they fight. It’s such an exciting sport to watch, and it’s finally come back.
As a senior, this will likely be my last chance to support my beloved San Jose Sharks in the Bay Area. With a roster full of young and feisty forwards bolstered by an experienced roster with many Stanley Cup winners, I’m fully expecting the Sharks to take home a Stanley Cup of their own and bring yet another championship for the Bay Area.
I know that I should be angry with the two sides for not being able to pull their heads together for 113 days, but I’m too blinded by my excitement and pure enjoyment of watching big men hit each other on ice skates.