For many NHL-less months, I was constantly reminded of a song from the 1963 English musical about World War I, "Oh, What A Lovely War."
The tune in question opened as follows: "When this lousy war is over, oh, how happy I will be." And that's precisely how I felt about the seemingly endless CBA Battle.
Amen! The hockey war is over and I -- along with millions of fans, media types and other onlookers -- am tickled pink. And that, I might add, is the understatement of the half-century.
All of us -- from our dedicated fans of MSG Network and those who jam The Garden every hockey night -- to everyone in the hockey world, especially in Islanders, Devils and Sabres Country, it's time to have stickhandling fun once more.
ALL of us puck-followers can now chant: THANKS! THANKS! THANKS!
We're thankful that the 2013 season is saved.
We're thankful that the CBA agreement will keep us from any more migraines and now we can turn our attention to whether our favorite teams are en route -- hopefully -- to important things, such as winning a Stanley Cup.
We're thankful that recriminations can now be turned to full-scale rooting in the right directions.
You get the point; it's over and we're glad and now we have to figure what will develop in the blossoming immediate future. The following are some thoughts:
Many rooters were suitably unhappy about three months of a hockey drought. I sympathize and empathize with them. Been there; done that. My prediction is that once the puck officially is dropped, fans will return as they have in the past; secure in the knowledge that they're assured that they'll have a work-stoppage-free hockey life.
The stickhandlers all will be in shape. Either they've been playing overseas or working out here in North America. Players such as Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise, et. al. have operated on the theory that a settlement eventually would be achieved. Most should be in mint condition.
QUALITY OF GAMES
I vividly recall the shortened 1994-1995 season which finally began in January 1995 after a lengthy work stoppage. As it happened, the tighter campaign inspired intensely played contests. "It was like every game was a playoff game," recalled Marty Brodeur, who paced the Devils to their first Stanley Cup -- I was there for all four of the Final games -- in June 1995.
There were the usual charges and countercharges that characterize any labor dispute. They surfaced throughout all previous work stoppages and this was no exception ... but with an asterix. Never before was the hi-tech social media employed to express opinions. At times, the emotional outbursts crossed the level of what my Uncle Joe would call "Revolutionary Decorum." I believe that any damage caused will turn out to be as illusory as smoke rings. We all know that hockey is an emotional sport, and once the intensity of a game subsides, reason prevails. And that will be the case as we prepare for the new campaign.
MAVEN'S COMMENT: Drop the puck. LET'S PLAY HOCKEY!