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Masked Fan Speaks
Lake County News-Chronicle
Last Updated: Thursday, October 28th, 2004 11:44:39 AM
Straight from the Secret Cave....
Somewhere near Beautiful Downtown Larsmont....
On the Scandinavian Gold Coast!
THE MASKED FAN SPEAKS!
NEW YORK....It is so quiet here at the NHL headquarters that you can hear a mouse..., well let’s forget that one. Let’s just say that it is very quiet. No phones ringing, no computers going, no press conferences, no nuthin'. Oh, and might I add, no negotiatin'. Almost as quiet as all of the empty NHL arenas around the states and Canada. Hockey fans longing for some professional puck are not getting real antsy yet, but that is probably because it is still fall most everywhere and the weather has been nice enough to still enjoy some outdoor pursuits.
It may also be that most fans think the season starts too early and ends too late that there has not been a fan uprising yet. That will happen about mid-January when the holidays are over, it is 20 below outside, dinner is over, and you are not going anywhere because you just got your first batch of holiday credit card statements, and with beverage in hand many fans will sit down to tune in the game of the night and it won't be there.
That flashy NHL Tonight theme song that the Fan Jr. and I would turn up, wayyyyy up, because it was game night, absent. It was celebration night because we were going to get to watch a game that night. The popcorn was popping, the sodas were iced down, a box of Milk Duds and a cup of coffee. Boy Howdy. Bill Clement and Gary Thorne. Even the smarmy mullet-headed Barry Melrose. Gone. Gone. Nowhere to be seen! That's when the roadapples will hit the fan.
Gary Bettman's and Bob Goodenow's names will be used in vain among other things. That is when fans will feel it the most. How about all of the people that are depending upon the show? Yeah, they are feeling it already. The ticket sellers, the lower-end front office people, the concessionaires, people whose companies do business with the NHL clubs, souvenir sellers and so on. What about the "little people" whose livelihoods are so much more dependent on the league games being played than apparently the NHL and the NHLPA care to think about?
What about the game? What about our Grande Old Game? The game we hold dearly, this sport of ours, etched upon our hearts and souls forever. Yes, once you love this game there is no turning back, you will love it forever. The game we watch, that holds our rapt attention, the game we love, because it is the best game. Yes it is. It is the most exciting, the fastest, the most daring, the toughest, the most graceful, the hardest hitting, the most brutal, the most beautiful. It is a sport with many characters, many comedians, and a few clowns.
There are no negotiations going on at this point. Both sides are so far apart that they don't even feel it worth the effort to speak. They are seemingly back at the point in time when the telegraph wasn't yet invented. The popcorn makers are now laid off. So are the beer sellers. Perhaps their families were counting on those jobs for holiday money...or more. The ticket windows are shuttered. The phones are being answered by recordings now. The owners want to protect their investment with "cost certainty," the players say "no way," it is just a salary cap in disguise and we.....will......never......accept it! What would happen if the most beautiful trophy on the entire planet had a year missing from it?
Have you ever watched an entire Stanley Cup tournament from start to finish? The grueling first round, the upsets, the fighting for position. The second round, buckling down to play some serious hockey. The conference final. A chance to play for that greatest of all trophies. An opportunity to get your name engraved upon it for eternity. Many a man has taken much punishment and physical pain to see if he can have that. There are some ushers in the original six NHL cities who have been doing their same job for 25, 30, 35 seasons and more. Montreal, Toronto, New York. They are at home now. Waiting. Trying their best to put a good face on this, but waiting.
The finals. After three hard-fought rounds, the finals. Someone at the end of this human beating machine is going to get to hold that trophy. Hold it high. And get their name on it for all to see. Nothing else matters. Not in this sport. Ask any player. Ask them if they had a better-than-even chance of getting their name on the Stanley Cup, but they would have to give up their pay in order to have that.... Just ask them. I already know the answer. It is late in the third period, the home team is winning. In the back hallways, somewhere deep in the bowels of the arena, they finally feel it is a safe bet to remove the trophy of all trophies from its case. Better polish her up, just in case. The keeper of the cup slides on a pair of fresh white gloves. And begins to polish.
There is a new champion. And after the immediate fanfare has died down a bit, the cup is readied for its entrance to the arena. As it first comes into sight, you can hear an audible gasp drawn in by thousands, awe upon their faces. Some of the fans, young and old, men and women, will have tears in their eyes at their first glimpse of it. The knowledge of what it takes to hoist it overhead makes it mean that much more. We probably won't be witness to such pomp and ceremony this year. Apparently there is not enough intelligence between the warring factions to find a common ground and get on with the season. You know boys, it's not your game. It's OUR game. Think about it....Peace
MFAN NFL PICKS OF THE WEEK;
After going 12-2 on winning picks in week 5, this week was a complete disaster! I ended up at 5-9 for what has to go down as my worst week ever! So, this week I have got out the ju-ju beads, the crystal ball, the ouji board, and I called Carnac the Magnificent on Tuesday morning. Here is to better picking this week, NFL WEEK 7:
CHEESE BAY @ WASH / WASH
BALT @ PHIL / BALT
ARIZONA @ BUFF / ARIZONA
NY GIANTS @ VIKES / VIKES
CINCY @ TENN / CINCY
INDY @ KC CHEFS / CHEFS
DETROIT @ DALLAS / DET
JAX @ HOUSTON / HOUS
ATL @ DENVER / DENVER
CARO @ SEATTLE / SEATTLE
NE PATS @ PITT / PATS
OAKLAND @ SAN DIEGO / SAN DIEGO
SAN FRAN @ CHICAGO / CHICAGO
MIAMI @ J-E-T-S / J-E-T-S
LAST WEEK 5/9 FOR SEASON TOTAL OF 62/40