So the NHL and NHLPA finally came to their collective sense (have they any?) and ended their prolonged lockout.
“NHL lockout over as owners, players reach agreement” from the Boston Globe.
Which means that the legendary lockout of the Mayan Ball League (the story of which I’ve been shilling here and other places) still holds the record as longest labor dispute in the history of professional sports.
Hockey is one of my personal favorite sports, both to play and to watch, at any level, nearly. I love watching a good Hockey East tilt, a Worcester Sharks (nee Ice Cats) game, a Super 8 series, and I especially love watching the Boston Bruins. Love, with a bitter taste in my mouth after the lockout, perhaps. Last year saw an alarming number of players coming down with concussions (the way you’d come down with a cold if colds were administered by a 200+ lb. person ramming their shoulder into your head). After one particularly bad week for the players, I began to think that the last rash of head injuries on a similar scale must have been back when the Mayans were playing their ball game with the hoops, the one at the end of which the loser would occasionally be beheaded.
So I started on a brief sketch of a history of that league, which had startling parallels to my beloved (formerly?) National Hockey League. The NHL really is the red-headed step child of professional sports. I’ve never seen a league do more to shoot itself in the foot than it. While Major League Baseball emerges from the Steroid Era and its own labor strife of the 90s, the NFL enjoys the very peak of its popularity, and even the NBA, for crying out loud, managed to avoid a stoppage in play, the NHL goes from a force gaining fans left and right to a full stop in operations, effectively killing its momentum in the sporting population’s eye and heart. It has expanded ambitiously to curious destinations for a sport played primarily in the cold, by kids outdoors on a local pond. It has had numerous of its stars (Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, and probably other players from other teams) cut down in their prime due to the brutal nature of a sport in which large men on blades and in heavy pads thunder around an enclosed space with sticks and a hard piece of rubber.
And I put it to rest. When the labor dispute began again I was so… irate? Disappointed? At loose ends? I had no hockey to watch out here in the western backwaters of the country, after all, while Boston College and Boston University and Maine and all the rest appeared on Friday nights on NESN. Whatever it was, I picked up the story again, finished it off, ending the Mayan Ball League with a whimper, rather than a bang, as my shadow of the NHL tore itself apart, slowly.
The fact that the Mayan calendar was ending also seemed like a handy time for this story to come to light.
And so that’s how that all happened.