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Cue Edith Piaf January 7, 2013

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
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Those of you who saw the movie “Inception” will get the reference right away, but for the rest of you, I need to explain that title before I dive into the meat of this post.

In the film, dreamers are reminded that it’s time to wake up when they hear “Non, je ne regrette rien” by Edith Piaf.  There’s subtext in the usage of that song:  part of the plot involves how one of the characters recovers from a lot of moments that he regrets.  And if you listen carefully, the horns at the very beginning of the film sound like the horn part of “Non, je ne regrette rien” slowed down–which is how they would sound to dreamers in “Inception.”  And finally, at the end of the credits, the song is played at normal speed, signalling us, the “dreaming” audience, that it’s time to “wake up” ourselves.

Well, cue Edith Piaf on the nightmare that was the lockout, because now we can wake up and get back to the game we all love.

I’ve missed the NHL for the past few months.  Not exactly junkie-jonesing-for-a-fix missing it, but there’s definitely been a hole in my getting-out-of-the-house schedule that’s been a project to fill.  To be quite candid, I was beginning to expect them to call the whole season off any day now.  So when I found out they’d reached a deal on Sunday morning, I was happier than Sean Avery at Boxers NYC.

I’ve seen the expected “I’m only going to show up to boo” comments in some quarters, and that’s too bad.  Life’s too short, and hockey’s too much fun, to pay money to go stew in your own hatred.  And in order to vote with your vocal cords, you have to vote with your wallet to get in the door–and both the players and owners will happily listen to your kvetching all the way to the bank.  So if you’re going to show up, then cheer like the season depends on it.

And it very well just might.  With a shorter season, every game is going to be that much more important.  There will be almost no margin for error this season, even in the regular season, and never mind the playoffs.  We’re about to get treated to five months or so of the most intense NHL hockey any of us will (hopefully) ever see in our lives.  The errors of a 48-game season are much more dangerous than the errors of an 82-game season.  This season is essentially going to be one long, long stretch run from the instant the puck is dropped.  I don’t know about you, but I think that sure beats the heck out of a lost season.

And as far as I’ve heard, the playoffs are going to be the same as they’ve always been:  4 rounds, best of 7.  Yes, the Stanley Cup Final could very well be in late June.  (Just the thought of wearing an all-wool cloak when it’s in the upper 80′s is making me sweat.)  But as far as I know, they won’t put an asterisk on the Stanley Cup for this year’s champions.  The playoffs are the playoffs, regardless of the format of the qualification round (i.e., the regular season.)

The nightmare is over, Edith Piaf is blasting on our headphones, and it’s time for us to wake up to the reality of the new season before us.  Is it the 82-game slate we’d hoped for?  No.  Did it start back in October when we all wanted it to?  No.  Did we get to see a Winter Classic this year?  No. 

But does all of that give us, the fans, license to hold a grudge?  No, and especially not with a very unique season about to start.  That’s not to say that we should be rejoicing that the season has been shortened.  We shouldn’t be, not by any stretch.  But it is to say that we’re not going to see another season like this–hopefully–ever again.  So while we could get down in the amen corner and weep and gnash our teeth that we didn’t get the full 82 this year, I’d like to hope that we could instead take the good with the bad, and embrace the uniqueness of the season ahead of us.  If both sides of the labor dispute have learned their lesson well, we may never again see a season like this.  So why not appreciate the coming season for its uniqueness? 

No, it’s not a uniqueness anyone would have wanted; we’re correct in seeing it as a bit of a lemon of a qualifying round.  But what manner of lemonade might we see squeezed out of this lemon?

Let’s welcome hockey back with open arms, and look forward to a one-of-a-kind regular season.  Every single game is going to matter this year.  And the Stanley Cup will not be deliberately covered in tarnish for the team that ultimately wins it this year.

No, I did not, as a fan, enjoy the lockout.  No, I did not, as a fan, enjoy long, dark winter nights without the company of the sport I love.  No, I did not, as a fan, enjoy being reduced to a betting chip in a squillion-dollar poker game.

But Edith Piaf is blasting on my headphones.  The dream is over.  Hockey is back.  And even though the regular season is going to be markedly different from a full 82-game slate, I think that just makes it a singular–and hopefully unrepeatable–experience to take in stride.

Hockey is back, finally.  And I would submit that those of us who love the game, should love the game as we always have.  The time for finger-pointing is over.  Now it’s time for stick-taping, skate-sharpening, fight-strap-fastening, and trying to develop, once and for all, some way to de-stink hockey pads.

The nightmare is over.  The season is finally at hand.  And I, for one, can’t wait to get back to the rink and cheer for the guys in red.

CAPITAL SPIRIT
HOCKEY’S BACK!

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