Most people mark the passage of time in hours and days. We take 60 seconds and 60 minutes and 24 hours and make the 365 days that define a year. It’s an inexact system that creates an extra day every four years and has a few minutes and seconds to spare. Somehow, time goes on.
We poke fun at ancient civilizations for their imperfect calendars when we’re still figuring it out ourselves. Humanity as a whole thinks it’s probably a good idea to keep track of time. The how is the always hard part.
The internal clock of a sports fan works a bit differently than other humans. Days and weeks and fortnights are fine, but seasons make more sense. Forget about the solstices and where the sun is these days. A season, depending on the sport, can mean any number of things.
The seasons are actually pretty easy to keep track of. Football is September to February. Baseball runs from April to October. Hockey and basketball run from October to June. College sports have their order in the queue as well. Usually it runs like clockwork; another few lines on the graph that mark the passage of time.
Losing track the day or time is an unsettling feeling. Absentmindedly forgetting the new year in early January is one thing, but a few hours spent somewhere further along in the work week can be startling. A holiday or change of routine can be tough to overcome mentally. You can actively try to push past the sense that Wednesday is not a Friday, but the feeling that the weekend was once a few hours away is tough to forget. Sometimes feelings can override even the soundest logic.
In hockey the measurements have stayed the same this season, it’s the numbers that have changed. A lockout equals 119 days and a season drops from 82 to 48 games. The seconds and days are unchanged, but this season is made of something else entirely. In the span of two weeks, a season will be dropped onto our calendars out of nowhere.
So hockey’s back, and with it comes the familiar emotions and feelings of a Sabres season. Well, maybe. We haven’t really gotten to that point just yet. Our winter weekdays have come and gone without 7 p.m. faceoffs and goal horns. The familiar motions and emotions of a hockey season vanished for four months, but they’re set to return now. Maybe that will wipe away the nagging feeling you put the garbage cans out on the wrong day.
Fans have done plenty of talking about what will happen when hockey finally comes back. Some plan to embrace the return, while others want to make a statement with their wallets or span of attention. I’m on the fence like many, but I think it’s an acceptable place to be right now.
I was six years old the last time the NHL had a shortened season. When the 2004-05 season was wiped out, everyone started fresh in October of 2005. The hockey calendar has never quite looked like this, and it’s going to take some time to gain my bearings. I expect I’ll have some company to flounder with.
So yes, I’m ready for hockey. I guess. It’s the second week of January and training camp will start while the NFL moves deeper into its postseason. Opening weekend will coincide with conference championship weekend for the biggest sport in America, while the NHL’s playoffs could finish in the last week of June. I expect my internal clock to be off for the entirety of what they’ll call a season.
It’s an inexact system, but time goes on.