The NHL season has entered the Stanley Cup finals stage. At one stage it seemed like there would be another embarrassing engraving on the cup saying that the season was not played because of a work stoppage. The lockout did indeed cast a dark shadow over the world of NHL and boy, did it piss off the fans.
The fans of the NHL and hockey in general vehemently criticized the lockout and pledged never to watch hockey again and that the NHL was dead to them. I put my hand up and admit that I was one of them and those who read the blog regularly will remember some of the bitter posts that I made.
But on one fine day, all was back on and everything in the world of hockey seemed great! The season was shortened into a short sprint rather than a long marathon. And boy what a season we’ve had. Some great games during the regular season have made sure that the fans who were ready to turn to other sports have come flocking back. There have been some great highlights indeed.
To be honest, one could have almost forgotten that the season, started under a lockout. It does seem quite distant.
I guess that at the end of it all, NHL and the game of hockey has won and persevered what was damaging to the league and the NHL brand. If people needed any further proof that hockey was back with a vengeance, game 1 of the Bruins vs Blackhawks Stanley Cup final drew the highest TV audience for a Game 1 match since 1997. It beat last seasons’ Kings v Devils final opening and man what a game it was. The Stanley Cup has been touted as the toughest trophy to win in all of professional sports and when you play nearly two full games of hockey in one night to obtain a game winner, it certainly speaks volumes of the type of entertainment that was on offer.
Is it all forgive and forget?
Well, no, not really. Were fans are happy to have the league back (yes it is the best hockey league in the world), there is still some repair work needed on the relationship. The fans are still like a jilted lover who will not put up with another bout of nonsense.
There is no doubt that the boos will rain down when Gary Bettman walks on the ice to hand out the Stanley Cup to either Jonathan Toews or Zdeno Chara. That alone should tell everyone that people have not forgotten how disappointed they still are with the lockout. Whilst the new CBA will guarantee some peace for the foreseeable future, the more skeptic fan will be thinking whether or not there is another lockout booming in the horizon of hockey’s future.