Saturday, December 29, 2012

We Don't Know What We're Missing

I don't need to tell anyone what the disadvantages of the current NHL lockout are. You already know. Business owners are struggling to make the kind of money they'd usually make on game nights. The worst of the NHL's fans are just as insufferable and bitter as ever. Heck, some of their best fans are just as bad. On good days, I work on a draft of an optimistic piece about the lockout that's been in development hell for weeks now, if not months.

But lately, there haven't been that many good days. I have nothing to look forward to, hockey-wise, but waking up early to read uninspired tweets about World Juniors games. My New Year's Day will likely be boring as hell as I prepare to go back to work, where small talk will (as usual) consist of banal questions about the lockout. The only inspiring thing to happen to NHL fans, through this entire lockout, has been (of all things) a commercial:

It proves that hockey players and fans aren't just in love with their sport: they're determined and stubborn in the best way possible. Two sentences basically say it all:
Take away my pads? I'll just wear thicker socks.
We don't care about the industry or the business of hockey. We don't even care if we get a little more banged-up than usual on the ice. We just care about the game.

But if there were an NHL season right now, this ad proves that Steven Stamkos would be a force to be reckoned with. Just look at him. I've always thought he was an impressive player, but I've never actually been scared of Stamkos until now. Here, he's just as much of a threat on camera as he would be on the ice. He's staring into the camera like he's watched too many Clint Eastwood movies. Just watching him, you're squirming in your seat, hoping for NHL hockey, for one of two reasons: either just to placate him before he gets angry, or to see what he's going to do once he puts on his skates. Somehow you can tell that he's itching to get back on the ice and start lighting the lamp in every arena in the NHL. He's coming off of a 60-goal season. He's ready. He's angry.

Stamkos would have been a sight to behold this season, but there is no season. And now we'll never know what we've been missing.

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