Thanks God for small favors. For instance, there is not a revolver within reach. Why? Itís pretty simple. Hockey talk has broken out on the radio. If I had a revolver, I would either shoot the radio or shoot myself for listening. There was no warning, no sirens, no alerts, no bulletins. It just broke out without provocation. I felt as though I had just walked through a room of people suffering from the flu and there I was, with no flu shot.
Itís my fault. I should have known. My bad. To tell you the truth, my greatest asset over all of these years has been ignorance, and in this case, it has not served me well. Why? Well, the local entry in the professional hockey league simply doesnít lose. Ever. In fact, let me expand that. No one who plays in that building called the new Boston Garden ever loses. Itís the strangest thing. No one ever loses. Where it that revolver when I need it?
Because some caller is saying right now on the radio that if the Bruins had some unknown defenseman with an unpronounceable name, they would gain three points in the standings and would ultimately earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs, because the power play would produce and the penalty-killing unit would save the day. Itís scary, but he sounds as if he knows what heís talking about. But how can he know this? And why am I listening? Revolver, please.
Please calm me down. I know all about the canít-lose basketball team. I am trying not to resent them and prevent them from infringing on my memories and good feelings from the days of John Havlicek to those of Larry Bird. Iím struggling with that, but I am coming along nicely. But thatís for later. Itís the hockey talk spilling out into radioland that causes me to reach for a gun. If I had one. Itís my fault for not being ready. OK, I will get a grip. Iíll stop the revolver talk. Iíll try to understand the new order that is what we call the local sports scene.
You can blame it on the Internet and the demise of all conventional media. We do that with everything else, anyway. I am really trying to be honest here, in the holiday spirit. I am not ready for a hockey team that plays a game that is completely foreign to real hockey.
Point No. 1 about the NHL. And it is precisely point No. 1. Why does a team get one point for losing in certain convoluted circumstances? And letís face it, the shootout just flat-out sucks. Great idea, bad execution. It works in the Olympics. It doesnít work day in and day out. It adds none of the high drama that it was supposed to add. Find a revolver and shoot the shootout.
OK, there is a little more fighting, but itís not real fighting. Not really. So here we are. People are talking hockey because our team is beating every team it plays. Itís embarrassing for me to know even the people they are beating. Small-market teams with players who might as well come from Narnia. Give me a pistol, please. We could have a Stanley Cup and we could have NBA championship banner No. 18 here in Boston. We could win everything all the time. But now, when you win all the time, you lose that special quality that winning brings. Donít get me wrong. If there is one thing I would want, it would be another Stanley Cup in Boston. But itís a different game. It saddens me that the Stanley Cup has been cheapened by a bad league playing a flawed game.
But here is the real deal, in the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of self-examination. Just because I think itís a bad league and a flawed game doesnít make it so. The same applies to so many other things in our lives. The game is just different. Nobody wants things to be different if they love the way things were.
So when hockey talk invades radio like a deadly virus, maybe itís time for people like me to realize that maybe we need to change. Take the bullets out of the gun. Donít shoot anything. Just shut up and realize that things change, and youíd be much better off if you at least tried to change with them. And if the next caller on the radio wants to talk about power-play efficiency, put on some music and save yourself the aggravation. Just get over it and be thankful that the local teams in that building never lose.
Veteran TV personality Bob Lobel is an OT columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org