Journalism Next from Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

Special to the HeraldFebruary 18, 2013 

Hello out there! We're on the air.

It's Hockey Night tonight;

Tension grows, the whistle blows,

And the puck goes down the ice.

The goalie jumps, and the players bump,

And the fans all go insane;

Someone roars, "Bobby scores!"

At the good ol' hockey game.

Oh! The good ol' hockey game,

Is the best game you can name;

And the best game you can name,

Is the good old hockey game!

As a child, I remember my father collapsing onto our old navy blue-and-cream armchair, turning on our antiquated, big and bulky Panasonic television, and flipping the channel until that box with a screen played The Hockey Song. In 1973, the famous Stompin' Tom Connors, Canadian folksinging legend, wrote the catchiest tune of all time, next to Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," of course.

Now, I'm biased. Where I grew up, The Hockey Song was played on a nightly basis. I grew up in the frozen tundra, where hockey is less of a sport and more of a religion. When the Detroit Red Wings, a pro-hockey team, had their first inter-squad scrimmage on January 15 this year, the entire stadium was filled within 15 minutes. That was after the worst lockout since 2004.

Speaking of the lockout, maybe I should fill you in. The NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which determines howmuch revenue is dividedup between the owners and the players, expired in

September of last year, one month before the hockey season was to start. So, the union and the owners had to hash out a new one.

The only problem is they couldn't agree on any of the major points, most importantly the issue of reducing the players' share of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to 46 percent. This, among other issues proposed by (supposedly evil) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, angered the players, so they went on strike. Therefore, the owners locked the players out of the arenas, and the number of NHL games decreased by almost half. Not going to lie, it wasn't pretty. For a while, most people didn't even think there was going to be a season this year.

Well, those doubters were wrong. The NHL is back, baby, and better than ever before.

The players and the owners agreed on a new 10-year deal, allowing for peacetime until the 2021-2022 season.

Now that all of the legal hullabaloo is behind us, here's an idea: instead of moping around, feeling sorry for yourself now that the NFL season is over, why don't you watch some hockey?

Honestly, I have no clue why hockey isn't more popular in America. Strike that -- it is surprisingly popular in America. In fact, The NHL on NBC's opening weekend showcase boasted the highest viewership for a non-Winter Classic NHL telecast since 1999, with roughly 3.8 million viewers, according to sbnation.com.

Truth be told, those numbers can be deceiving. It is very likely that the overwhelming majority of viewers who tuned in for the opening-weekend showcase were from northern states, such as Michigan, Minnesota or Massachusetts. You know, states that have ice.

Copious numbers of people, ranging in age from five to 50, hose down the backyard and lace up the skates to pass the time. This rousing game of hockey then provokes people to go indoors and proceed to watch the pros do it. On January 19, hockey's opening weekend, you can bet your lucky stars that is exactly what those Canucks were up to.

Sadly, the state of Florida is just a little too close to the equator for people to build backyard ice rinks, and, ergo, towel off the blades and watch hockey.

However, the lack of frozen ponds doesn't mean Floridians shouldn't try the NHL. Now that the Ravens are Super Bowl Champions (honestly, people from Baltimore didn't even see that coming), hockey is really all you have left. What else are you going to watch, basketball? That isn't even interesting until March.

To be clear, it's not like that's a bad thing. It's not like you should be saying, "Oh, darn, all I have left is hockey. How will life go on?" No. Hockey is super fun to watch.

A hockey game is 60 minutes worth of fast-paced, hard-hittin' pure adrenaline. Think of it as a mix between football without the breaks and skydiving.

Players skate as hard and as fast as they can for roughly 24 seconds, which is the length of an average NHL shift. Take it from the kid who has actually played hockey; after a proper 30 second shift, you are dead tired. Players are gasping for air by the time they reach the bench. They fill themselves with nauseating electrolytes (Pedialyte, anyone?) and head back to the ice for another 24 seconds of hardcore torture.

Most hockey players (including myself at the time) call the games themselves brutal, but worth it. Does that, by chance, ring a bell? DING DING DING. If you guessed football, you're not stupid.

You heard it here first, folks: The NHL can, in fact, remedy your post-Super Bowl football withdrawals.

Hockey is a great game and has a bright future in this country. TV ratings are at their highest in a decade, and fans continue to flock to the arenas.

It's OK to hop on the bandwagon. You'll fit right in.

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