Tonight, April 13 would have been the start of the march to the Stanley Cup Finals in four cities the rinks would be alive with anticipation, the beer vendors in full throat, the trinket marketing gurus counting the bountiful cash as the locals purchased the loopy foam fingers, fat head hats and such that go with the terrain of playoff hockey.
The networks would begin the money season, where 30 second spots turn into gold nuggets for struggling public network and profligate cable outlets alike. And hockey fans from St. John's to Tofino, Inuvik to Miami-Dade and all the points in between, would finally have had something worth watching, many in the East staying up late into the morning to follow the games from the far flung outposts .
But, and this is no bulletin, there is no playoff action to recount tonight, no surprises as an underdog sneaks out the first win of what would become a long drawn out thriller. There will be no breathless following of the office hockey pool, a rite of passage for every red blooded Canadian hockey fan at playoff time!
Instead we're left with poetic odes to a season lost and simulated playoff games played out for our amusement. And worst of all we learn that the battle for Stanley will be played out this year in the courts, a sad, pathetic fate for such a storied piece of Canadian and hockey history.
No, North American sleep patterns are safe this year, somehow I don't see Canadian and hockey loving Americans staying up late into the night wondering how the petition to the courts will play out in the coming morning. No one will be checking the boxscores to see if the plaintiff has pulled ahead, or if the defendants have held off the power play.
In fact as Spring marches on without hockey, many won't even notice. A tale of warning for those that have brought the game to the place it's at today. The latest word has it that the two sides at war shall return to the discussion table next Tuesday, may they take a moment to contemplate what should have been and this year never will.