We as fans have had a lot of ups and downs during this NHL Lockout. Emotions rise and fall like tidal waves, and there are only so many ways we can vent our feelings, so many ways we can say the same thing over and over again without the point getting lost in the repetition.
If you take a step back and look at this debacle as a whole, it has really played out like the soundtrack to a movie. So I have drawn my own parallels and come up with songs that fit the events that have taken place over these past two months (and more), from start to… right now.
As an added bonus, you may find songs you like in here! To listen to the songs, just click the bolded name/title.
(As a disclaimer, I had to add “Classic Rock” into the title because five songs into this, that’s all it is. My music taste is very old.)
And here we go…
“You’ve got to ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive
E-lim-i-nate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
And have faith, or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene.”
First of all, forgive the misleading first song (since it’s big band and swing, not classic rock). Second, Johnny Mercer is The Man. He co-founded Capitol Records, and anyone who can rhyme “aurora borealis” with “red and ruby chalice” is pretty damn talented.
This song best described the mantra fans (probably) chanted as free agency ticked away to August ticked away to midnight on September 15. Nothing was happening, but dialogue seemed fairly open from both sides. Focus on the positives, and something’s bound to happen, right? …Right?
“Oh baby, please, baby please set a date
Baby, please, baby, please set a date
Don’t you wait until tomorrow
‘Cause tomorrow may be too late.”
As September 15 slowly approached, fans began to lose all sense of positivity in the situation. The impending date, the resulting lockout, hung in the air. And in that last week, neither side wanted to set a date. Which led right into…
“It’s nature’s way of telling you something’s wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you in a song
It’s nature’s way of receiving you
It’s nature’s way of retrieving you
It’s nature’s way of telling you
As September 15 came and went with not even a whisper between the two sides, fans began to realize that perhaps this wouldn’t be a one or two week delay like they had been hoping. Something in the air told them differently. This wasn’t going to be a short affair.
The days ticked by and piled into weeks, and no meetings were scheduled between the NHL and the NHLPA.
“Eyes down, round and round
Let’s all sit and watch the money go round
Everyone take a little bit here
And a little bit there.”
Almost every line from this song by the Kinks fits how fans felt (and still feel) about the entire lockout. Both sides are bickering over money. It doesn’t matter if it’s the owners or the players; they all watch the money go round and round and in the end, does anyone really deserve it?
“And the prophets in the boutiques give out messages of hope
With jingle bells and fairy tales and blind colliding scopes
And you can tell they’re all the same underneath the pretty lies
Anyone for tennis; wouldn’t that be nice?”
Everyone involved put on a happy face and told the media that everything was fine. They’re just waiting for the other side to approach them first! Then things will start happening and hockey will come back. Don’t despair!
Meanwhile, fans became restless. Some turned to other things to occupy their time, like…tennis. But mostly baseball and football. They started to realize with every passing day that they needed to find another sport or activity with which to eat up their time. It’s the same old song and dance.
“I worked hard, but not for the money
Did my best to please
I used to think it was funny
‘Till I realized it was just a tease
(That’s why I’m) Looking for the next best thing
Looking for the next best thing
I appreciate the best
But I’m settling for less
‘Cause I’m looking for the next best thing…”
This described many of the players who went overseas when the first few weeks of the season were canceled. This wasn’t your Ovechkin, who signed for $5.7 million (tax free); this was your Drew Miller, who’s playing in Scotland, or your Ondrej Pavelec, who’s playing in the Czech Republic. These were the players who wanted to keep playing regardless of the money; they wanted to play because they love the sport.
“In spite of all the heartache
That you may cause me
I’ll do anything for you
Anything you want me to
If you’ll be true to me…”
This old school song by The Beatles (or The Quarrymen, if you want to get technical) was how it felt the NHL viewed its fans. Because despite all the dangers and traps in the lockout, they seemed to believe as long as hockey came back at some point, the fans would come back as well. Just like last time! Because nothing’s changed.
Or so they think.
Because sometimes it feels like fans were tied to the whipping post. And oh lord, they felt like they’re dying.
“The burning bed
The roses dead
And now I’m dancing with myself
Yeah, I’m missing you
Just like you want me to
You made me trip into the grind
Now I can’t get you off of my mind.”
However, the reality was that even the most diehard fans were starting to tire of the back and forth blaming, the lack of meetings, and the lack of progress over revenue sharing and defining hockey-related revenue. Fans began to lose hope of getting their sport back.
But they missed it all the same. They started to watch highlights from last season on YouTube or NHL.com for their fix. Their local Fox Sports channel began airing entertaining playoff games from recent years, and they tune in and cry a little. The familiar announcers’ voices, their favorite players… it was all too much to take.
“Sometimes I get to thinking
About the times we used to have
But now you’ve gone away and left me so alone.”
But then the winds of change arrived…
“I don’t want you, but I hate to lose you
You got me in between the devil and the deep blue sea
I forgive you, ‘cause I can’t forget you
You got me in between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
October 17th rolled around, and all of a sudden, the NHL put an 82-game season proposal on the table with a week for the PA to discuss it. Fans felt like they were caught between a rock and a hard place. The deal looked too good to be true; they wanted to get their hopes up, but they knew there has to be some sort of catch the players will not like. Not to mention, many fans had sworn off returning to the NHL if it ever came back, but this looked promising that it was hard to believe they could say no.
Unfortunately, the devil overtook that hopeful deep blue sea…
“You had me believing the love we had was real
Things we did together
You said they’d never end
Now and till forever
Oh yeah, that’s what you said
Girl when I was down, I knew that you would always be there
Indian Giver, Indian Giver
You took your love away from me.”
Just like that, fans’ hopes of having a full season were dashed. The Players offered three different scenarios, the NHL dissed them all, and everything went back to square one with nothing changed and fans now hating both sides with a passion. There was no good guy or bad guy in this anymore – there was just greed controlling everything. And the fans were left out in the cold.
This was when the anger and heartache really came into play.
“Your lips are moving, I cannot hear
Your voice is soothing, but the words aren’t clear
You don’t sound different, I’ve learned the game.
I’m looking through you, you’re not the same.”
It doesn’t matter the excuses each side came up with; fans knew better. They saw through the lies. They watched the NHL blame it on the players; they watched the players blame it on the NHL, and they knew it was all a bunch of BS.
“You can’t hide your lyin’ eyes
And your smile is a thin disguise
I thought by now you’d realize
There ain’t no way to hide your lyin’ eyes”
“I don’t care if you never come home
I don’t mind if you just keep on rowin’ away on a distant sea
‘Cause I don’t love you and you don’t love me
I tried to love for years upon years
You refuse to take me for real
It’s time you saw what I want you to see
I’d still love you if you’d just love me.”
Fans felt betrayed. Even the most diehard, who have weathered so many other work stoppages and lockouts, were leaving. They don’t care if the sport ever returns, and if it does, they won’t be there to support it.
Bonus song, because some fans probably take it a little further than Eric Clapton:
“Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I’ve said
Baby, I’m determined
And I’d rather see you dead.”
Harsh, eh? But the threat was (and still is) serious. How easily and callously the NHL and NHLPA threw fans to the side during their fights based on greed had (and have) fans out for revenge.
And no one knew who to trust or who to support.
(In retrospect, the Beatles probably should not have been on here as much as they are. But it’s like Tom Petty said a few weeks ago on his Sirius XM show, Buried Treasure, “You can’t just play one Beatles song.”)
“But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
Your suntan does rapidly peel and
Your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the love that I feel is so far away
I’m a bad dream that I just had today — and you
Shake your head and
Say it’s a shame.”
And the fans came to the conclusion that both sides were thick as a brick. No matter what was said, no matter how many apologies they tried to issue, the PR battle was lost.
We just want hockey back, people. Are you really that thick? (The answer is yes.)
“I’ve felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us
But I know that I love you so
These are the seasons of emotion – and like the winds, they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion – I see the torch we all must hold
This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must fall.”
“We are in the middle of a change in destination
When the train stops, all together we will smile…”
And suddenly, last week, both sides started talks in private, with very little press and a heck of a lot of secrecy. And that’s a good sign, hence the line of being in the middle of a change in destination. Something will come from these talks; it will either be encouraging or catastrophic. But no one wants to get their hopes up too much.
Much like “Night Flight” states – when we get to the end of these negotiations, there is hope that we will all smile for the outcome. But like “The Rain Song,” the lack of hockey, the lack of progress gives us a deep-setting cold feeling that we cannot shake so easily. The night is darkest just before the dawn – is that the point we have reached?
And what happens if it all falls though?
We fall into a pit of despair, curse the sport we loved so dear, and vow to never return. We hope it all falls down the drain and never resurfaces. Because many of us know that when it comes back, we won’t be able to help but watch. Maybe we won’t go to as many games. Maybe we won’t go out of our way to buy merchandise. But we may tune into games to see our team play again.
“Oh, I asked you for a date and you said okay
Baby, I’m just waitin’ until that day
So don’t let me down (don’t let me down)
No, don’t let me down (don’t let me down)
‘Cause you know that I love you
So please don’t let me down.”
Five straight days of private negotiations, and even into the weekend on top of that… it’s hard not to get our hopes up for this part, even just a little bit.
They can’t let us down. Or the majority of fans will give up completely and never return.
Someday soon, we will be able to complete this soundtrack on a happy note. And I think this is the most appropriate musical finale:
“We’ve been waiting for a long time
Yes, we’ve been waiting for a long, long time
We’ve been waiting for a long time
But we ain’t gonna wait no more
We’re getting ready to rock and roll
We’re gonna one, two, three, four
One, two, three
‘Cause the boys are back in town
The boys are back in town…”
It will be the happiest day in quite a long time whenever our sport returns, even if it is a little more than tainted.