A brand new year is upon us, and so is a new NHL season. A tentative agreement was reached between the league and the NHL players’ union on January 6. This comes at a time when the deadline to reach a deal, ultimately deciding the fate of the NHL season, was only five days away. The new season will see each team play 48 games, with the regular season said to be starting on January 19.
The feedback from fans across the country is mixed. Many are extremely excited to have hockey back, and to fill that void that has been missing. However, there are still others that remain upset, not ready to forgive the NHL just yet. But one thing all fans can agree on is that it is refreshing to finally have an answer.
I was ready to move on with my life if no agreement was reached, but I am more than willing to buckle up and enjoy what should be an incredibly entertaining season. This is mainly because in a short season anything can happen. As a Leafs fan, if the season was only 48 games last year, my team would have made the playoffs. Given the Leafs’ recent track record, I’ll take any advantage or change I can get. The NBA had a shortened season due to a lock out last year consisting of 66 games that was extremely exciting. What made the season great was the grind of a condensed schedule. So many games in a week – at times four or five – had the fans caught up in a whirlwind.
Perhaps the best part of the lockout ending is there won’t be the constant back and forth nonsense served up by the media on a daily basis. I am grateful to not have to hear hockey analysts, Bob McKenzie and Daren Dreger speak one more sentence about what may or may not happen tomorrow morning, and then come on three hours later and say, “Ok, well things have changed again. Apparently we were wrong.” I couldn’t handle listening to NHL on TSN host, James Duthie tell me how depressed all of Canada is without hockey and how our lives are going to suck if were to go one more week without it.
If you would have told me that there would be no hockey this year, then I was fully prepared to shut my ears to all NHL talk for the time being. I was ready to focus solely on the NFL playoffs, and to spend my time dreaming more about the upcoming Blue Jays season. But I won’t have to do that anymore.
I cannot wait to watch hockey on Saturday nights, and to resume the eternal Crosby or Ovechkin debate. Life in Canada for the next four months will seem just a bit more normal. Whether we will see quality hockey remains to be seen, but you can count on me being among the thousands of NHL fans tuning in to find out.