Hockey is back in Boston, at least for half a season. After months of fruitless negotiations, the black and gold will take the ice, Rene Rancourt will pump his fist as he sings the national anthem, the jacked up fans in the first row will bang the glass till it sways, while the huge team flag will makes its way around the Garden. And oh yes, there will be games to be played with speedy skaters, shots from the blue line, terrific saves, and of course blood, lots of blood as enforcers make a statement using their knuckles and their knuckleheads.
The strike is over, Jeremy Jacobs made his point and got his ounce of financial flesh, the players will return from their European vacation, and the merchants in the barrooms, pizza joints and souvenir shops will finally be able to make a living. And perhaps most importantly, the billionaire owners will remain billionaires and the millionaire players will remain millionaires.
The question on the minds of many in this hockey town is will the fans actually show up for the 48 game schedule? Usually when professional sports temper tantrums end, the diehards come back, maybe with a few boos and catcalls, but with a new vigor to watch the game they love and to see blood on the ice.
Professional hockey has always been the number four sport in town (and in most towns where there is a wide selection of teams to choose from), and so there will be a lot of nervous owners and general managers once the season starts. The strike is over, but the sport may have damaged its popularity, not with the gallery gods, but with those occasional attendees who might be disgusted with hockey and have drifted over to the Celtics and the Patriots (or to Foxwoods).
It’s good to see the Bruins back in the game, although Jeremy Jacobs will never win the Mother Teresa award for selfless charity or human kindness. Rather he will win the Vladimir Putin award for cold-blooded stubbornness and a genetic proclivity for money-grubbing. Go Bruins. Thanks for nothing Jeremy.