January 14, 2013: The Night the NHL Lockout Ends
On January 14, 1784, the United Sates Officially became a nation after Congress, ending the American Revolutionary War, ratified the Treaty of Paris. It is known as Ratification Day, a holiday lost to history. After January 14, 2013, ratification will still be the most important thing to happen on that day, but the end of the NHL lockout would rank second, right? Alright, so the Catholic Church spoke out against slavery on that day in 1514, Spain annexed Cuba in 1539 and Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first sitting president to travel by plane in 1943… Yet the end of the NHL lockout would most definitely, probably, make it on the January 14th Wikipedia page (if any NHL fan is also a Wikipedia editor).
The NHL canceled games through January 14th. That is the last partial sacrifice of the NHL season before the whole campaign gets thrown out the window, along with those ill-fated NHL Lockout trading cards. With the sides refusing to meet, it’s going to take a miracle to turn things around and have a much-anticipated 48-game season. I’m sure that in this condensed environment, no one would suffer career-ending injuries and the best team would win the Stanley Cup. However, if the Columbus Blue Jacket win, we’ll know the season was fixed because the owners felt bad about canceling the All-Star game.
So on January 14th, all the hockey fans will be anticipating the start of an exciting season. The return of Sidney Crosby, the Los Angeles Kings reign, the existence of the Phoenix Coyotes, these thoughts will be lighting a fire in every fan’s head on January 14th, right? Everyone still thinks this season deserves to be saved? I mean, the owners and players had the fans best intentions at heart, with their false hopes and their teasing and their childish games…
If we honestly think about the night before the start of the 2013 season, it cannot stir too much excitement. The season is already tainted with the acts of both parties in this affair. Even if the games are played, a cloud hangs over the NHL for the foreseeable future for the greed of the lockout. According to studies, the NHL product is more damaged than BP after the gulf oil spill. It’s not easy to clean up that kind of mess.
So if due to some New Year’s resolution, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr lay down their weapons outside of the U.S. court and strike a deal to end the lockout, that will not fix the damage. So, what would marking January 14th as Ratification Day again mean? Could it save a few loyal hockey fans? Would anyone’s heart be fully committed to a sport that couldn’t commit to them for four months? The league needs to find out. Either way, it will draw less of an audience than Elvis’ Hawaii special on January 14th, 1973. At the time it was the most watched live television event ever.