Thursday, September 20, 2012
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - The NHL… of The Future!
Fret not, fans: the lockout could be the best thing to ever happen to hockey.
Good morning, hockey fans! Here's hoping you're doing something productive with your time now that there's a lockout, like emptying jars of baby spiders onto Gary Bettman's bionic faceplate. Last week we took a short break from 24/7/365/15,000,000,000 lockout coverage to bring up everybody's favorite team, the Dallas Stars, and what we had to look forward to. This week, rather than engage in such unrealistically pointless exercises in futility as talking about the 2012-13 season, we're going to do what we should have done all along: travel forward in time to see how all this plays out.
Borrowing a spare time machine from our close allies at FoxNews (they get a lot of grief for calling Obama the Atheist Muslim AntiChrist, but we in the media know that they're not actually reporting news, as much as coming back from the future to give us timely history lessons. Get those welfare checks out of yours ears and listen to the Truth, sheeple!), I pulled back on the large brass lever marked "2525" and was instantly transported to a world where hockey was not just the only major sport —it was the galactic way of life. Small children knew Mike Modano's shot-blocking stats before they knew how to read. The elderly prayed to Cam Fowler for strength. 21st century hockey blogs were treated like holy scripture.
Glancing around, I had to wonder: what in the heck? This was not what I had expected, coming as I did from 2012. Spotting a solid-platinum statue of Gary Bettman standing triumphantly atop a mountain of naked Russian supermodel corpses, I knew I had gone too far into The Future to understand what had happened. It would be like if a caveman was transported into a modern-day Leafs game: someone would have to explain to his tiny reptilian mind why wild ferrets had not yet devoured everyone in that building alive.
So I gaily skipped back into the time machine, pulled on a different brass lever and went back in time to 2050. The only discernible difference was that in this time period, everything was perfect and we were living in a total utopia. Spotting Gary Bettman posing for a solid-platinum statue of himself triumphantly atop a mountain of naked hockey writer corpses, I went up with a few questions.
Gary Bettman: "Hola."
Me: "Hi, you don't know me, but I'm from the distant past. Do you have a minute?"
Bettman: "I think there's a little room over here, underneath Ryan Lambert of Better Homes and Gardens. Just take off all your clothes, oil up and slide in."
Me: (already naked) "Way ahead of you, bro." (snuggles in) "So, Gary, this being 2050 and all, maybe you could tell me exactly what happened after the Great Lockout of 2012?"
Bettman: "Is that when it started? Wow, Time flies, huh?"
Me: "Wait... 'started?' You mean—"
Bettman: "Oh yeah, forgot you're a mindless neanderthal from our shameful past. Yeah, things got a little hairy back in 2012, what with the lockout, then the hiding of the bodies, then the negotiations turning sour, then Ryan Suter slapping me in public. Maybe they didn't happen in that exact order, but those are the things I remember about that dark time."
Me: "Sounds like things got pretty contentious."
Bettman: "Oh, they did, they did. But in the end, we won. Hockey won. Our mutual tax haven in Luxembourg won most of all. So it was all worth it in the end."
Me: "So what exactly happened? At the time, it seemed like the owners and players were not all that close, neither refusing to budge."
Bettman: "Oh, yeah, that. Well, things went along like that for a while. Players would come down to 51-49, so we told them to accept 43. They went down to 50-50, so we told them to take 35 or find another league. Stellar negotiating on my part, if I say so myself."
Me: "...and then what?"
Bettman: "Oh, by 2013 they weren't having any of it. Some of them joined the Bikini Hockey League. Others went to the KHL and were never heard from again. But most of them accepted our final offer of 15% of bobblehead revenues and the moistened hindquarters of a rat. Especially after we threatened their families with lava."
Me: "How long was the lockout, then?"
Bettman: "We finally threw together a shortened 2012-13 season by 2017."
Me: "2017!! B-b-but what about—"
Bettman: "Yeah, and the other seasons too. 2013, 14, 15, 16 and 17. We didn't lose a single season! Just made them all 15 games long. I appointed the Cup finalists and draft lottery winners, and everyone walked away happy. Fans still are still glowing about the miraculous 'Double Five-Peat' the Penguins pulled off back then."
Me: "Double five-peat?"
Bettman: "Yea, five straight Stanley Cups and five straight #1 overall picks. Pretty lucky, in hindsight."
Me: "But what about the sport itself? What about the principles of the CBA, of reigning in the owners, big contracts, all that jazz?"
Bettman: "While the NHL was loathe to part with 15% of bobblehead revenues just for some lazy players, we knew we had to make tremendous sacrifices for the good of the sport. Fortunately, by getting everything we wanted, the sport not only grew, but quickly took over the nation's imagination. Already by 2018, more than a dozen fans showed up to each game. By 2025, that number had almost doubled. By 2030, after we had made a few minor tweaks to the game, fans came into our arenas in droves. Droves, I tell you!!"
Me: "Minor tweaks?"
Bettman: "Just some stuff I had proposed as far back as 1993. Like replacing the ice with hardcourt, swapping pucks for large orange bouncy balls and having tall black men shoot 'goals' and pass for 'assists' instead of tiny white Canadians. Also, goaltending was finally made illegal."
Me: "You mean... you mean like basketball?"
Bettman: "Hmm? What is this bas-ket-ball of which you speak? I have not heard of this bas-ket-ball, unless of course you're referring to the long-extinct lost sport of the NBAs, a primitive, barbaric pastime whose leader, the traitor David Stern, was publicly beheaded in 2029."
Me: "Beheaded? For what?"
Bettman: "Please, b*tch, like I needed a reason."
With that I was summarily dismissed from the naked man mound and returned to my time machine. I put paper towels on the seats so as not to get oil on them and pulled the large brass lever labeled 'MODERN TIMES.' Transported back to the age of you primitive yokels, I come with a message of peace: folks, quit your short-sighted whining! Stop living in the present: yes, there's no chance for hockey right now, but it'll all be worth it in about three decades! Boo Gary Bettman all you want, but know that the loss of 20 or 40 or 82 or 400 games is just a short-term sacrifice for the greater benefit of the league. So whip out those pro-lockout posters and get in front of a TV camera. Call up your local NHL owner and tell him you're supporting the lockout 110%. Corner an NHL player in a dark alley and slap him around a bit. He'll thank you for it later.