The Crimson White

National Hockey League’s return makes life a little bit more normal again

Marc Torrence

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I rolled over in bed in my Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hotel on Jan. 6, just a day before the BCS National Championship Game, and checked my phone to find out some of the best news I’d heard in a long time.

It had nothing to do with Alabama, Notre Dame or anything else involving the week’s festivities, which I was absolutely exhausted from at the time.

It was a text from a friend of mine that was simple but to the point: The NHL lockout is over.

The season officially started 13 days later on Jan. 19, and while the actual hockey is still pretty bad (there was no preseason of any kind, only a week or so of training camp) it’s a fantastic feeling as a fan of the game and sports in general.

As a sports fan – and, in some ways for me, a sports journalist – you get in a rhythm that flows as one sport ends and another begins. It’s a little bit different for everyone, but for me, it usually goes something like this:

The school year starts and football dominates the landscape. NFL preseason has usually already begun and college football starts soon thereafter. As conference play really picks up in October, the NHL begins – I’ve never been much of an NBA or MLB guy. Once college basketball begins, it’s usually on the backburner with college football reaching its peak of rivalry and conference championship games.

The BCS bowls and national championship game are usually around the time that conference play is picking up in college basketball and it’s full speed ahead for the NHL. After the Super Bowl is over, March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year. Then it’s the NHL playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals, after which there is a miserable month or two waiting for SEC Media Days.

Baseball and the NBA are mixed in there, too, and I’m sure for most of you they fit in somewhere. For the NBA fans in particular, you can empathize with having the start of the season delayed last year for a lockout.

When one of those sports is completely out of commission, like the NHL was, it throws you off. Gary Bettman and company, however, waited until the last minute, for me and for them, and it feels like my sports routine is back to normal again.

Even if most of the players are shaking off the rust and not quite playing at a high level yet, it feels good to be frustrated, elated, pissed off and overjoyed again with just one swipe of a stick.

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National Hockey League’s return makes life a little bit more normal again