Did you hear the story about the guy who was driving drunk, smashed his car into a building, and was finally pulled over by three cop cars and a state trooper? And the first cop who gets up to him says "Hey, you signalled perfectly, and pulled over promptly and appropriately. Great job!"?
No, of course you haven't. Because that would never happen.
In that same vein, I simply can't sit here and say "Great job!" to Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr for finally ending this thing. That it has ended is a good thing. Don't get me wrong.
But this went on far too long, with too many periods of either outright inactivity or activity that was infantile and churlish for me to ignore that and celebrate the moment of its conclusion. Too often, BOTH sides acted like they were uninterested in making progress for me to be appreciative of their efforts now, this far into the process.
This isn't an armistice day to end a war. This isn't even the day your loved one finally succumbs to sickness and dies - that "he's in a better place now" feeling.
This is just (mercifully) the last blot of black paint on the worst Pollack ever.
When I survey the wreckage, I don't see many positives.
Can you really say you think there's a healthy relationship between the NHL and the NHLPA?
Can you really say you think there's a healthy relationship between the NHL/NHLPA and the fans?
Can you really say you were not disillusioned at all by this process? By the league? By some of the players' behavior? By even one person in the media?
The only thing that's changed from yesterday is that the league has finally figured out how to divvy up our money. The only thing that's left to see is how quickly we will resume giving them that money.
Now I know we (as fans) will come back. I know I will come back. What choice do we really have? Being a fan of the best league in the world of a particular sport doesn't really leave you much choice in alternatives. Immaterially few NHL fans will honestly be able to switch to KHL or junior or NCAA hockey and be truly satisfied. We're coming back.
And that's always been the rub for me throughout this ordeal. The lockout has served to remind me that my fandom of the NHL is not something over which I have any control. Which cell phone company I use, at which restaurants I eat....I have control over those things. But not the sports league I follow the most.
So we go back to the NHL. We all know we will. But we should do so knowing that we give ourselves over to the NHL's control when we do.
No, this isn't a great day for hockey. This is just a great day for the NHL.