Reality Check

Less than 24 hours after the frenzied celebration over Canada’s 3-2 victory against Finland in the final of the World Cup last night, hockey fans from coast to coast are now mourning an NHL lockout that was expected to be announced at a news conference earlier this afternoon in New York City.
Whether the labour dispute ends up costing the entire 2004/05 NHL season, or even extend into the following one, remains to be seen.
For hockey fans, the prospect of a long winter without NHL hockey is a dismal one. No “Hockey Night in Canada” every Saturday, or the countless other games on other channels during the week. No hockey pools. And, gasp, no Don Cherry on “Coach’s Corner.”
Ordinary Canadians also may feel the economic pinch of an NHL-less winter as those whose businesses or jobs depend on the spin-off from professional hockey see those dollars dry up. And as Montreal Expos fans well know from Major League Baseball’s 1994 lockout that cancelled the World Series that year, some small-market teams may never recover from a prolonged disruption.
There are countless others, though, who aren’t wringing their hands in despair today wondering how they’ll ever cope with Jarome Iginla-Mats Sundin-Martin Brodeur-Vincent Lecavalier withdrawal. Yes, there are those among us who couldn’t care less that NHL arenas are about to go dark, or that multi-millionaires will have to ply their trade elsewhere for at least part of the winter.
And really, as Canada’s first ministers wrestle with trying to cure our sick health-care system, cattle farmers face ruin over the “mad cow” crisis, and our soldiers continue to put their lives on the line on the front lines of the war on terror, it’s these people who have it right.
Now if only the NHL owners and players could get the message.