Well, the lockout’s over — the powers that be at the NHL and NHLPA have decided to be ever so gracious and allow hockey to once again bring sunlight to our otherwise dreary lives. Maybe see you guys around in the 400s.

Gary Bettman, on an off day. Photo via Flickr

In the future, this space will be devoted to soapboxing about local issues both big and small, but today I thought I might as well address the news that everyone, or at least everyone who gives a shit about hockey, has been talking about: the unnecessary NHL lockout that ended yesterday morning.

After months of jostling over issues us mere workaday mortals could never understand or sympathize over, the powers that be at the NHL and NHLPA have decided to be ever so gracious and allow hockey to once again bring sunlight to our otherwise dreary lives. Thanks, y’all — we were floundering without you!

During the lockout, even the most ardent of NHL fans were probably gripped with something resembling a mix of anger and apathy, as we all knew it wouldn’t last forever and, as with previous lockouts, the boardroom bullshit would be but a faint memory once the puck dropped again in earnest. And, frankly, a break is nice once in awhile, even though I would say this year’s Cup winner should be considered illegitimate given the condensed schedule.

Now that the squabble is over and we can survey the damage, both the players and owners will unsurprisingly emerge from this largely unscathed. They’ll still get their bucks, and their fanbases — I’m referring more to wealthy corporate sponsors and not us unimportant plebs who might catch a few games in the 400s if we’re lucky — will come crawling back like they always do (hell, Nike built an entire ad campaign around the lockout). After all, there’s still a Cup to be won, and the on-ice product promises to be unchanged.

But rest assured that no one at NHL or PA HQ gave two shits about the “greatest fans on earth” or whatever patronizing handle Bettman likes to spew, so go ahead and boycott the league if you feel you must. Just be clear that there’s no groundswell movement coming, and, aside from the owner of your already struggling local waterhole,  don’t expect anyone to notice your absence (sorry for not coming by more, Chez Baptiste). In one week, it’ll be back to business as usual.

You have RDS at home, regularly call in and vent on 690 AM and buy four whites for the family once a year? The NHL doesn’t even have you on its radar. All this lockout did was prove that holding nos glorieux as a key component of our cultural identity is a dangerous thing when those who paid large sums to own that history have no qualms about tossing it underground and erecting an ugly condo complex on top.

Speaking of which, our own doughy owner Jeffy Molson did his best vanishing act during the lockout, which isn’t surprising. The only zest he’s shown for the job (in a public sense; for all I know, behind the scenes he could have had the fortitude to stand up to penny-pinching tycoons like Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs) is using the once-lustrous brand to hawk 250K suites. Thankfully, he appears to be pretty hands-off when it comes to the on-ice product as well, so hopefully new GM Marc Bergevin and his impressive stable of underlings will be able to rebuild the team in peace.

One more note: here’s hoping there’s a provision in the new deal that requires Bettman and PA honcho Donald Fehr get their heads driven into stanchions by Zdeno Chara. Might as well put the big lummox to good use.

Oh, and Gomez: feel free to stay in Alaska. ■

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