In hockey terminology, "freezing the puck" is defined as "to cover up or immobilize the puck to force a stoppage in play." That, in essence, was the state of NHL hockey for the past four months, as the second lockout in just eight years melted away nearly half of the season.
With the abrupt curtailment of the National Hockey League lockout, life just became much more complicated for the San Francisco Bulls -- until quite recently the Bay Area's only bastion of professional hockey. As a AA-level affiliate of the San Jose Sharks, the Bulls are already feeling the reverberations of a higher professional ceiling. With players being yanked from the Worcester Sharks to the parent club, two Bulls and possibly a third will be lifted off the roster and are Worcester-bound, according to team vice president Ben Farhi.
Coach and president Pat Curcio, per Farhi, has been on the phone since 4:30 this morning trying to fill those roster spots. "Life just got more complicated -- but also more exciting," says Farhi.
See Also: Puck Yeah! Taking the Ice with the San Francisco Bulls
It figures that the lockout helped the fledgling Bulls. If you were a hockey fan, they were, truly, the only show in town. A study of where fans went during the last crippling NHL lockout, in 2004-05, reveals that teams in the Bulls' league enjoyed a 3.6 percent boost in attendance -- that translates into a couple hundred fans a night.
Farhi, however, is hopeful that more interest in hockey spurred by an actual NHL season -- an abbreviated, 48-game schedule could be under way within two weeks -- will trickle down into more interest in the Bulls. The team is no longer the only show in town, but it is still the cheapest (and only one where between-period entertainment involves hurling foam pucks onto the ice or playing the "Dead or Canadian?" trivia game).
Curcio hasn't yet returned SF Weekly's calls -- he seems a bit busy attempting to fill his roster. Farhi, meanwhile, said the departure of several of the team's mainstays -- whom he declined to name until the transactions are finalized -- is bittersweet. "We're happy to see them get the chance. But it's sad to see them go."
Get used to it.