The following is purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laugh while reading this, while framing this, or while burning this. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?
Somewhere, deep within the bowels of the National Hockey League's head office, is a list. And on this list is the myriad of plausible reasons why the league has never really been able to catch on with the average North American sports fan (read: most Americans and that odd Canadian who somehow thinks curling is cool). It is a long list Â– roughly equivalent to Paris Hilton's I think I can explain that rash list Â– often cited by the league to explain its tremendous lack of popularity amongst most carbon-based life forms. On it, you will find:
We have no major American television exposure;
Most people have never seen a hockey game;
It takes time (roughly 215 years) to cultivate a hockey fan;
Basketball gives its fans unlimited access to candy.
Conspicuously absent from the list is the one villain who everyone's currently pointing a finger at, for everything under the sun, - the NHL can't even play the Blame Game properly Â– Global Warming! Yes, my rapidly-thawing friends, Mother Nature is keeping fans from warming (brilliant reasoning, I know) up to the sport of hockey.
If you think about it, it makes so much sense.
Hockey is obviously a winter sport. Thinking about hockey is like thinking about Christmas Â– romantically snowy images, guys dressed up in strange costuming Â– and, like Christmas, it stays relevant for roughly a week. Once the temperature rises and the snow subsides, Santa (and the NHL) is about as culturally-significant as an ice cream scoop in the Sahara.
Now, we're getting deeper into the playoffs, the competition is heating up (see?) and Joe Fan turns to his beloved baseball, mowing the lawn (which he started doing this year, strangely, in mid-January) and, of course, basketball (the aforementioned nefarious candy factor). What, in all of this, would make a sports fan even think about hockey?
Hockey needs winter, like short guys need ladders. One cannot work without the other. Without cold weather, you have no ice. Without ice, you have the American Airlines Center.
Hockey's decline can historically be traced back to roughly the same time as the end of the last Ice Age. There's a storied past somewhere back there, but no one wants to dive in to see exactly when it actually happened. In that sense, to most casual fans, Dave Schultz and a Pterodactyl are roughly equivalent (if they only knew how equivalent).
And now, as the world warms up and the ocean's swell, winter and everything that comes with it, slides further and further from our collective consciousness.
Gone are the vaunted snowmen of days gone by. Gone are snow angels. Gone is smashing icicles into an unsuspecting friend's ribcage. Gone, too, is the NHL from what precious little room it occupied on the crowded sporting scene.
You want your scapegoat? You want someone to blame? Blame her.
Mother Nature can be such a bitch.
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Tuesday and Friday only on thehockeynews.com.
Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org