Stuck in Second Gear

November is dead on arrival, and collective bargaining negotiations between the NHL and its players have been a joke. The NHL lockout is the worst parody of the Friends theme song ever imagined.

Unless you’re a Kings fan, the last six months haven’t been a lot of fun if you like hockey. The lockout is dragging, making fans angry or, perhaps worse, completely ambivalent about the CBA process altogether. Layers upon layers of arguments about who is less wrong in this process are simply no fun. It’s boring and pointless and makes just about everyone involved sound silly and quite conceited, really. Our opinions, just like our desire to actually see hockey, are worthless here.

If you’re really desperate for iced canes, there are ways to get your fix. The Amerks drew a decent crowd last week, and there is always a KHL game or two to watch online. College hockey will be happening soon, which means someone may actually watch Canisius play at a Division-III facility a mile away from campus.

The solution for all this still feels far away. I’ve written before that it’s best not to care too much; that there are other things to do. I still believe that, but I understand if you’re currently invested in this whole hockey thing happening. The NBA may not be your bag and the Bills are still tumbling down the ever-climbing escalator of mediocrity. Hockey was kind of fun, when it was a thing.

As simulations of the regular season replace actual games scheduled, one thing I’ve come to realize is that I’m not particularly excited about this Sabres team once it gets back to playing hockey. They were pretty awful last year, and despite some interesting pieces added to the mix I’m not crazy about them being any good this year. The cast and characters is familiar, and that’s not exactly a good thing.

Watching a bad team is better than no team at all, but it is something to consider. Once the owners get what they want and fans finally get their hockey back, what’s to say it will be all that fun anyway? The only real reminder that this Sabres team was fun to watch comes from Ryan Miller, who has only popped up this offseason to remind everyone he’s a smart, rational human being trapped behind heavy pads and questionable workloads.

Here’s Miller, saying more with his Gmail account than both sides of the negotiations have said in front of a podium in months.

“The two sides are close enough to a deal that missing the bulk of a season is wrong and missing an entire season is not only insane, it is a blatant disregard for the sport, the fans and the culture we have grown over decades — just to satisfy egos, not the needs of either side.”

Miller consistently comes off as the smartest guy in the room, even if he’s only emailing hockey writers and applying additional sunscreen to his wife’s back. With lockout talk endlessly bouncing around an ever-barren hockey landscape, his rationale is the thing I’m thinking about a week after the fact. Too bad it’s his words, not his play, that I’m stuck with as the calendar flips over.

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