Preparing for the Unspeakable

Someone wake me up when the nightmare is over. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Free agency news has slowly and painfully dried up, Rick Nash is a Ranger, and there may or may not be a hockey season starting on October 11th, 2012. For a lot of hockey fans the anxiety and dread about the season being delayed, abbreviated, or perhaps not happening at all is enough to make them weep. I’ve already picked out a cozy dark room to disappear into, curled up in the fetal position for weeks on end, muttering and blubbering to myself about how excited I was to hear Sam Rosen say, "Richards to Nash… SCORE!"

Just like we do before any disaster (hurricane, tornado, zombie outbreak) we should all do our best to prepare for the possibility that we might not have hockey to get us through most of the year. Most of these preparations are relatively simple- make sure we have plenty of canned and preserved foods, gasoline, fresh water, and some kind of melee weapon should the zombies ever get through the barricaded door… but other preparations are unique to the current situation. We should all prepare, on some level, for a lockout.

So, grab your shotguns, canned peaches, and DVD sets of The Walking Dead and join me for more after the jump…

I want to preface this all (perhaps I should have written the "preface" at the top of the article where it belonged, huh?) by saying I hope all of these strategies are absolutely unnecessary and that those of us who are expecting the worst are shamed and jeered at by our peers for our lack of faith. Should this all be inaccurate conjecture and a waste of my time and yours than I apologize and will happily put myself in a stockade and be pelted with any and all rotten fruits (nothing from the mango family) you may have for me. However, should I be right and should these strategies get us all through the dark days ahead I expect to be praised relentlessly.

1. Fantasy Hockey- If we don't have real hockey to watch at least we can play fantasy hock-... oh wait. Son of a bitch.

1. Virtual Hockey- For those of us who still twiddle our thumbs on joysticks for hours on end there is the option of playing the upcoming season in the virtual world. This is kind of like just taking the blue pill from Morpheus and turning your back on the reality of the situation and putting it on yourself to carry out the season with or without the world's approval or support. I am almost certainly going to take this path at some point as a last-ditch effort to cling to whatever sanity I might still possess.

Turning to virtual hockey is nice because it is a journey you can take alone or with others. We could even make a league on Blueshirt Banter and use it as a kind of group-therapy.

2. Football- From what I hear about football it sounds a lot like hockey but with whistles blown every 3 seconds, pretty yellow flags flying everywhere, and a lot of grass stains. I am a "casual" fan of football but if the news we get about the Bettman meetings continues on this path I am going to get ready to devote a lot of my attention to the New York Football Giants. I know there are many of you who prefer the New York Jets... that is just adorable.

The professional football season also means there is fantasy football to take part in. Like most of you, I am going to need some kind of fantasy world to escape into, fantasy football just might have to do until we have hockey and fantasy hockey to distract ourselves from real life. Maybe George can create some kind of equation to work out how to translate football stats into hockey stats so we can at least pretend its hockey... at least for a little while.

3. Denial- This is a perilous survival strategy, I really can't say I support anyone using it. Those of us who will walk this dangerous path may find ourselves playing with old G.I. Joes with little hockey sticks glued to their hands and simulating every single game of the upcoming season. Still others will find themselves standing in the rain and snow outside of the Garden pawing at the doors and walls, whispering dark, private secret oaths to the building about what we'd do to see just one game.

Many of us will watch MSG for hours on end hoping that maybe, just maybe, the season might start in the same way that old Scottish fisherman watch the surface of Loch Ness just looking for something... anything. We'll fumble with our phones and frantically call or send out mass-texts when they air classic games and we'll all feel human again for a short time... but it will never feel as good as the real thing, will it?

As Lewis Black would say, we are all beautiful little snowflakes, we're all different and unique and we will all find our own way to get through what may come. If what we are all dreading does indeed come to pass, take comfort in knowing that Blueshirt Banter will be here for all of us to scour for any signs of hope.

Hockey gods, if you are listening, please let the season start when it should. Let's go Rangers. Amen.

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