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Hockey is back; Tip your bartenders

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  January 6, 2013 11:18 AM

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Hockey.

For the love of God, hockey.

No disrespect to the Celtics, Patriots, or the marketing machine over on Yawkey Way, but was there any better way to wake up to an early-morning Sunday snowfall than with the news that the NHL lockout is mercifully over?

Hockey is back, and letís not forget, the Bruins are the last team to have had a banner-raising ceremony, Kings be damned.

Itís likely to be a 48-game schedule, which, at this point, is the best thing imaginable. It will be a sprint, not a marathon, but whatever. Did we really complain about such matters in 1995? Wouldnít we have salivated of the thought in 2004-05?

Why did it take this long?

Why?

As excited as we may be to have the game back, there should be repercussions. The NHL and the NHLPA spat on your passion for the better part of three months, a fandom theyíll surely expect to regain with some ridiculous ďThank You FansĒ message etched into center ice. Not enough, Gary. Not enough, Don.

And itís certainly not enough, JJ.

Greed may be good, but in this case, letís give greed a message.

The thought of a boycott is foolhardy at best. The love of the professional game is a hierarchy for sure. Otherwise, how many college games have you attended the last three months? Letís stop with that well-intentioned pretension. We all love hockey, but at the NHL level, it a competitive and historical story line that other leagues can not match.

Weíre going to watch. Weíre going to go.

So, send your message by hitting olí Mr. Burns where it really hurts; the concession stands.

Go to the games. Go early. Visit the Harp, Boston Beer Works, the Sports Grille, and any other business in the North Station area that has been hurting since the lockout began. Tip your bartenders. Tip them nicely. Then, go to the game.

And donít spend one dime on any of Jeremy Jacobsí draft swill, Dippiní Dots , or hot dogs.

Yes, the players are at fault here too, but nowhere near the realm of the inept owners. The NHL is a league far too big for its britches, with franchises in cities better suited for indoor lacrosse than what hockey delivers. (Thatís not necessarily a dig on indoor lacrosse. Iím sure it would do much better in Columbus as a matter of fact.) But aside from booing, how do you send that message? And are the likes of Shawn Thornton really worthy of such a target?

Nope. It may be minor, but the only way to deliver the smug, greedy Bruins owner your thoughts is to not buy his precious popcorn. After all, the guy owns the team just so he can make money on fast food. We can agree on that, right?

You have a right to be angry. You have a right to be frustrated, You have a right to express your opinion about what the NHL put you through. But weíre not the happiest people today, nor are the players. Itís that waiter or waitress who depends on the gate for his or her paycheck. The parking lot attendant. The cab drivers. The chefs, ushers, and box office personnel.

I canít wait to watch hockey again, but to be honest, Iím most excited for those people.

Hockey. Finally.

Luongo sucks.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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