Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
The NHL lockout is over, and I would like to tell you that you have a easy way to punish the owners, players, or both - to show your disapproval of a months-long process that accomplished, ultimately, very little. Unfortunately, that's not true. You could stay away, I suppose; you could stop going to games, and buying merchandise, and watching games on TV, but if you are a hockey fan then you and I both know that you're not going to do any of that. You've been checking line charts all week. You've been trying to figure out a way to not hate Zach Parise for going to North Dakota. In short, you are going to cave.
I know this because I know that if you're an NHL hockey fan, you must be a die-hard NHL hockey fan, because there are no casual NHL fans left. Labor strife, nonexistent television contracts, and the overarching control of the sports world by the hockey atheists at ESPN have combined to make the NHL no better than a niche sport in vast swaths of America - the NASCAR of the north, if you will. Even in Minnesota, the country's most hockey-mad state, one could make the argument that it's no better than fourth place.
The great thing, though, is that you, my dear hockey fan, couldn't care any less. All the games are televised and St. Paul is still a fun place to be on game night and that's really all you care about - not TV ratings or why Steven Stamkos isn't more famous or whether the news or the sports page leads with last night's Wild game. I can call hockey all the names I want and it won't hurt me or any other die-hard hockey fan. We're just glad the circus is back in town.
So welcome back, NHL. We yelled and screamed at you for being idiots all fall, and while your surpassing stupidity hasn't changed, our love for the game hasn't changed either. It's good to see you again. Now let's drop the puck and forget this whole thing ever happened.
*On with the links:
*Down Goes Brown has a list of surprises in the new NHL CBA. And, in one of the year's most amazing posts (in a I-can't-believe-they-went-to-the-trouble kind of way), DGB and Bloge Salming also detail the negotiations that ended the lockout in a parody of Eminem's "Guilty Conscience."
*Will Leitch has some news for you about the NBC Sports Network - it's surprisingly good, especially when it is as little like ESPN as possible.
*Here's the whole seedy story of Curt Schilling and the state government conspired to waste a whole lot of Rhode Island taxpayer money.
*And finally: I think I've figured out why nothing ever seems to go right for Gopher football. Clearly, the jerks on the other side of the ND border have stolen all the good karma.