Well the good news for the NHL is that Canadians still seem to give a damn about their product and the game it represents. CBC One featured the return of NHL Hockey as it's question on Cross Country check up, and there was no shortage of commentary from the Canadian hockey fan. The question was "what will it take for you to come back to NHL hockey" and the replies were varied from coast to coast to coast.
Bernard St. Laurent, who is sitting in for the vacationing Rex Murphy interviewed Steven Brunt of the Globe and Mail, the legendary Jean Beliveau and former referee Bruce Hood to name a few, seeking out their comments on the state of the game and what beckons ahead. Over the course of the two hours, the callers set the pace as we took the pulse of this Hockey nation.
Phone calls from Newfoundland to British Columbia seemed to welcome back the players and their bosses without a great deal of acrimony. In fact rule changes, draft options and the fate of Todd Bertuzzi seemed to dominate the 120 minutes of Hockey talk.
You can check out the program here from the CBC Archive site, it's a fascinating examination of the importance of the game to Canadians and just how much it seems to matter above the 49th parallel.
The fans were passionate about their game and showed just how much they missed the sport over the last year. The good news for both the NHL and the players is that despite the horrid treatment they received in 2004-05, they still seem to care. They may not have forgiven both sides for their folly, but they seem ready to welcome them back into their homes.