National Hockey League

Nobody asked me, but ...

By Drew Markol, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the NHL.

Here it is, nearly Christmas, and we've yet to see a puck drop in any city anywhere.

Yes, there's minor league ice hockey and some NHL players have headed to Europe to ply their trade and stay in shape.

Staying in shape for what, I'm not quite sure, but maybe one day soon this whole labor deal will be solved and the lockout will be unlocked and the NHL will return to its likely place.

That place is not very high up the food chain as far as major sports in this country are concerned, but the NHL was making inroads and gaining popularity. That surge in popularity is likely gone with this season being turned into a disaster by the powers that be.

Perhaps the NHL, if it does play a shortened season, can ignite a little spark. Perhaps today's scheduled double top secret meeting between a group of players and owners in New York will produce a miracle.

Perhaps all concerned will cash in their chips and say see you in October for the 2013-2014 season.

NHL aside, the lockout of the icemen got me wondering.

Wondering where we would be if every sport, at the same time, stopped playing. Be it lockout or strike, where would we be if all the pro sports went away at the same time?

For argument's sake, or in this case, for this column's sake, let's set the scenario.

Major League Baseball ends on Aug. 31, leaving us with no pennant race and no playoffs.

A week later, when the NFL is all set to open its season on a Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning, or Thursday night, the players and owners have a spat and decide not to proceed.

A month later the NHL, which is well used to lockouts by now, decides the same thing as does the NBA.

Boom. The four biggies have all gone away.

What would we do?

And what would we do when they came back?

(Again, just play along. Of course this would never all happen at the same time, but it is kind of interesting to think about).

Now, back to our questions.

What would we do if it all where gone at the same time?

Would we rake more leaves? Or spend more time with our families? Maybe we'd start an exercise program. Heck, maybe we'd even read more books (real ones, not on a Kindle).

Would ESPN, which would be showing any and all college basketball and college ice hockey games, bring back Australian Rules Football, too?

Be honest, back in the day, was there anything more fun to watch late at night than that dude in the suit pointing at the ground when a goal (touchdown?) was scored. Admit it that was kind of cool.

And maybe the Americas Cup would be revived by being broadcast by ESPN like the old days.

Like Aussie Rules Football, none of us would still have any idea what was actually happening, or who might be winning, but we might watch for nostalgia's sake.

(Come to think of it, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all. I'm kidding about that, I think).

And what would we do when they came back?

Fans always say when such and such a sport is being withheld that they'll never return when it does. Well, that's pretty much a lie. We come back, we always do.

Some of us will remain angry for a little while, and claim we'll no longer buy a ticket and support that team and owner, but we will.

Our sports get taken away from time to time, it's NHL hockey now, and it will be another one down the road, that's for sure. Let's just not lose them all at the same time. That wouldn't be good for anybody.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia- area newspapers for over 25 years.

12/04 09:52:38 ET

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