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Almost all of us miss NHL hockey some of the time. And some of us miss it all of the time: players, owners, sports journalists. But its absence may also be a covert present in this gifting season: a chance to rebalance and recalibrate the place of hockey in our culture.
You see that imbalance in references to missing "hockey" and yearning for "hockey" to return. Yet it's only NHL hockey that's lacking. This is the result of a stealth coup by the NHL: it's made itself equivalent to hockey altogether.
Quick, before this hockey crisis goes away, I'd like to act quickly to try and wrestle some ideas from it, instead of wasting it.
What's eternally awesome is the way individual souls meld with their team. The identification is local, not national, except for rare Olympian moments. And it's with the team, not just players and definitely not owners. It transcends generations and absences. I once left Toronto for 10 years, pre-Internet when it was harder to keep contact, and when I returned I picked up exactly the same feelings of frustration with the Leafs and Argos as before, although entire rosters had been replaced, like the cells of a human body every seven years. The ongoing agony was seamless.