“Dear NHL, shut up about how happy you are to be back and just play the damn games already. Love always, Brett”
I posted this status update when watching the Bruins-Rangers game on Saturday evening, for one good reason: it sums up my feelings towards the NHL’s “we are back!” campaign, which apparently includes full page ads in newspapers, as well as an over-peppering of the sentiment on telecasts. I think that ultimately the 2012-2013 NHL lockout should be left behind, never acknowledged, and the NHL and NHLPA need to pretend that it never happened, that the season wasn’t shortened because of a dispute over money, and that this season is just like any other.
Of course, we all would know this to be false; the lockout has hurt the NHL, the players’ union, and all their partners and sponsors immensely. Many fans were nearly turned off to the league completely, and it’s going to take time for several other ones to come back. After all, it was the fans who were cheated; I recognize that collective bargaining agreements cover many aspects of the game, as well as the livelihood of the players; it still doesn’t excuse this b.s. posturing from either side. The owners and players need to recognize that fans don’t give a damn about half those issues, and that ultimately fighting over money doesn’t look good, and every time the NHL advertises that it’s back, it reminds the fans of why the season is shortened, and was delayed.
The horrific advertising campaign also brings to mind the cancelled 2004-2005 season, because we came so close to losing this year that the comparisons are inevitable, and legitimate. The NHL doesn’t need fans thinking of that; it needs them watching the games, being excited, and hopefully happy enough to buy NHL merchandise.
The NHL needs to be practical here, and that demands amnesia. The league survived the lockout, and that was a miracle (I’m not kidding, the league would have been rocked real hard if the season was cancelled). From what I have seen of the games thus far, the fans are still there, and that is a miracle. Take my advice: move on, don’t look back, and don’t fans reason to start looking back.