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On the Removal of a Privilege

May 19, 2020, 8:40 AM ET [1 Comments]
Jay Greenberg
Blogger •NHL Hall of Fame writer • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Been so long, we’re actually craving a good 5-minute review of an offsides goal. Miss those Ryan Carpenter misses and can’t wait for Taylor Fedun’s next shift. Hungry for news about where Pat Maroon is going next, too.

More than two months into the shutdown, the good and bad is all starting to run together. By now Pierre Maguire was right about those routine backchecks. They were fabulous. Give anything to watch a well-executed puck dump again or to hear the assistant coach saying between periods “we have to create more traffic at the net.”

Got our long johns laid out on the bed for hockey in August. Trained for this a long time ago covering May games in The Aud. Like coaches always said to Pierre Jarry, be nice to work up a sweat.

Nine weeks without live games has seemed longer than a Christoffer Ehn shift when the Red Wings need a couple. We’re all in a Ken Hitchcock doghouse now, wondering it we’re ever going to see the light of day. The arenas and stadiums are going to be the last things unbolted. And there is a legitimate fear that these gradual openings will prove too soon to make next season a full go.

The way we see it, this is all training though. Unlike shooting at Gilles Gilbert on a day he wasn’t into it, we can’t have everything handed to us in life. If that was the case we all would become as entitled as Lias Andersson.

Just when we were beginning to fret Seattle taking our 12th best player, along comes this deadly bug to shake us far worse than even an Olympics without NHL players. This has been more disruptive than Esa Tikkanen, harder to squash than Matthew Barnaby but, ultimately, in the course of human events an inevitability and, we dare say, even a necessity. The stock market was cruising for an adjustment and so was our attitudes.

Other than a safe and loving home environment, none of us are owed any of the stuff we come to enjoy. They are a privilege, not a birthright, and a little gratitude for them is good for the soul. The games were there for us every October to June, so the complaining about the people in them was routine. We would get bored with a Roger Neilson, turn on an Eric Desjardins, lose patience three times with a Claude Julien. We get spoiled by dynasties when they inevitably begin to crack and only later learn we didn’t treasure them enough while they lasted.

We’re just too pissed off too much of time about outrages in sports, real, or mostly imagined, and almost all short-lived anyway. We say never again during labor stoppages and then come back anyway. No Kate Smith on the arena screen anymore? Final straw, we say, at least until the team looks like it’s going to start to win playoff contests again. Comes the realization, who am I punishing? Until something comes along that has cost 90,000 lives, one power play goal in the last four games passes for the big picture.

The arena worker, the furloughed sports writer and web site operator misses hockey the most. You, me, the owners and players can handle the wait.

This is not to say that out-of-sight doesn’t threaten out of mind, which why there is aReturn to Play committee and all the convoluted plans to not let the 2019-20 season go, despite the dwindling days on the calendar. Revenue, salaries and apathy that could take years to recover from are at stake so can’t blame all parties for whatever abbreviated staging they might come up with to get the show on television again, even at an awkward time of the year.

But there is so much true suffering going on from family and income loss that it trivializes all else. We are forced to terms with that, maybe the best thing out of this pandemic, next to pet shelters being emptied out by those socially distanced seeking companionship. Patience is being imposed upon us and for the most part, we have found it. The payoff is that when we get the things back we like, they will be loved more than ever.

Just like we require the losses to fully appreciate the wins, the same goes for games not even played. If arenas without fans forces players to compete for half of what they were accustomed to, the market will dictate them taking what they can get. If owners must adjust ticket prices to get people back in the buildings, then the market will speak and the barons of the sport will assume less and listen more.

Having said that, we’re not buying any talk about a new normal. Unless a vaccine never comes to fruition, this, too, will pass, but, like in the aftermath of any ordeal, there will be a new gratitude.

Our understanding of the blessings of health, income and recreation will thrive as they haven’t since our last attitude correction in 2001. Life is real, the games a nice distraction from it. Those the virus hasn’t killed will be made stronger from the whole Covid19 experience, including loving all the more what was taken from us.
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