You're seeing headlines right now on major media web sites and blogs across the spectrum of hockey, declaring an end to the 2012-2013 NHL lockout. Indeed, a tentative agreement has been reached and it's unlikely the process is going to be stopped now.
There will be a
2012 - 2013 NHL season....
Here's the thing though: These sources, including Raw Charge and this very writer, have been waiting for things to be worked out for a very long time, much longer than the 113 days of the actual lockout. So our presentation of the end of the lockout is presented in an excited fashion, sort of like Christmas morning when the kids can finally go to the tree and open presents. We've (writers, media-type persons) have been anticipating this for a while because we cover this league. Resolution is a huge deal because we get back to work now.
The thing is, you can't get caught up in the hype of the day. You, the fan, can't. Not after what these bastards have done to you.
This is your game, your sport. You have your team (and fro Raw Charge reading regulars, it's likely the Tampa Bay Lightning), and what did they do? What did Commissioner Gary Bettman do? They took it away for the sake of trying to find the best way to make money off of your love. They took it away to make sure the profit margins and financial ledgers were in optimal alignment.
(Anyone who wants to interject guilt from the NHLPA, I'll only submit the fact this has been a lockout, an ownership induced labor tactic. They chose it. It was a war of choice, not necessity.)
Now the wheels are turning again, the grand machine is lurching to a start, creaking, groaning and straining all the while, but starting in earnest for the first time in many months. You cannot see all the mechanisms that are beginning their motions - players making arrangements to return to North America from Europe, singular NHL teams holding epic marketing strategy sessions in boardrooms and over the phone to figure out how to draw you back to the game, arena ice operations crews getting their schedule in order to put down a fresh sheet of ice, arena staff breathing a sigh of relief because they'll have steady work again and a steady paycheck - but they are moving. A grand and beautifully choreographed chaos of logistics that are only just beginning after a long dormancy, even before the 2013 NHL CBA is ratified.
But you can't get lost in the hype. You can't. Not after what happened.
113 days, they robbed you. They: Commissioner Gary Bettman and his court jesters; NHLPA Executive director Donald Fehr and his merry band of thieves who were trying to keep from the richer what spoils the players have.
The National Hockey League through its own elected foolishness has relegated itself to 6th among pro sports in North America. The National Football League reigns supreme and Major League Baseball is safely second; what should have been a tossup for 3rd between the National Basketball Association and NHL has become a contest between the NBA and Major League Soccer (the world's most popular sport has a firm foothold in North America now.
And then there's NASCAR, which won't get lost in labor strife like the other leagues. They'll keep rolling and drawing fans with thanks to individual personalities and everyone's love of speed.
All this with thanks to the top-tier of professional hockey in the world opting to squabble over revenue share and nickels and dimes. Talks that should have started last spring only got underway in July with a hideous offer from ownership that indicated hard-line tactics were going to be the driving factor in negotiations.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! You cannot defend it. You cannot.
And for every fan that tuned out this stuff, those of you that didn't understand hockey-related revenues and pensions, variance, "make whole" and an assortment of other jargons that were central to negotiations, if you tuned that stuff out or stopped paying attention, I envy you. Ignorance is bliss, and I really wish I could unsee the suicide attempt that had been the 2012-2013 NHL lockout.
I'm not trying to be entirely bitter here. Part of me has a very bright and positive feeling right now because it's like Christmas morning, as I said above. I know the 20th Anniversary Season can finally truly get underway for the Tampa Bay Lightning, I'm happy to know captain Vincent Lecavalier can finally reach 1,000 NHL games played. I revel in the notion that I'm going to be writing about the team I love again. It feels like dawn of a new season.
Yet I'm one person. I'm an individual talking to masses here. And there are countless other individuals who are in the same boat as me: writing about the end of the lockout and presenting it as a relief that the work stoppage is over, as if we forgot what you (the reader) have been put through for the last four months.
We haven't forgotten. Not nearly. Don't get lost in the headlines or the presentation that everything is A-OK again, because it's not. Rebuilding after this insanity will take years - the damage is profound.
I breathe a collective sigh of relief though and look forward to better days, because it's over. It's long past due to end, but it has indeed ended.
And so we move forward, into the unknown of the future with the NHL. We at Raw Charge will try to keep you updated on things as they happen in the next few days leading up to Game One, whenever that will be at whatever location on the continent.
It finally happened, today is tomorrow. But I'm not forgetting yesterday. And neither should you.