This past week I was in the kitchen cooking dinner and I heard something I thought was music to my ears: from the other room, I could hear the unmistakable sound of Dallas Stars commentator Daryl “Razor” Reaugh. I hurried into the other room hoping to see some miraculous news about a deal ending the lockout between the NHL and the players, but it was not to be. The news was old, as were the plays he was calling. The NHL Network has been running playoff games from the past few years. Worst of all was the fact that here was our guy calling plays for a game between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. As I debated whether or not I would allow such blasphemy to continue, I heard Razor use one of my favorite terms. He described an epic save by Anaheim’s goaltender, Jonas Hiller, as “grand larceny.” That’s when it hit me, this entire lockout is grand larceny.
The league is trying to rob us of our game.
On Friday the 2nd, the league cancelled the Winter Classic game. This fledgling tradition is one that is critical to the growth of the game. With all the hoopla of the days leading up to it, as well as the national television coverage on January 1st, this game had all the marks of a super bowl. Cancelling this game certainly left many fans feeling robbed.
First is the University of Michigan. The league had contracted the university for the use of “The Big House” in Anne Arbor. The sheer volume of fans that the legendary field could have housed is enough to initiate the entire NHL fan base into a forehead slap. Then there is the money, about $3 million for the use of the field. Think of how many potential scholarships just got taken off the docket from that cancellation.
Then there are the local businesses that will suffer from the cancellation. Dallas is well aware, after the 2011 Super Bowl, of what a marquee game such as this can do for an economy. With the Detroit Red Wings basically playing on home ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first Canadian team to be involved in the event, the turnout would have been spectacular. However, now those fans won’t have any reason to descend upon Ann Arbor, nor will their money.
And then there are the fans. Wait, shouldn’t we be used to this by now? We’ve already had to deal with the lost splendor of season openers, the continual cancellations of games and the seemingly endless stalemate that drives it all. We should be used to the idea of our game being slowly dismantled by the ones who are supposed the bringing it to us.
This is larceny on its grandest scale, says this hockey fan, and we shouldn’t be surprised at all.