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Puck You! 

How do you feel about the cancellation of the pro hockey season? We thought so.

Wednesday, Feb 23 2005
Marking the first time a major pro sports league in North America lost an entire season to a labor dispute, the National Hockey League last week called off its schedule of games for the year after a last-minute round of negotiations between players and managers stalled. Already a distant fourth in popularity among the nation's major-league sports, the NHL also lost the first season of its two-year broadcasting agreement with NBC that was supposed to begin this year. The decision to end the season because players and owners could not agree on how to split an estimated $2.1 billion in revenue puts the future of professional hockey in serious doubt, and in the Bay Area, fans of the San Jose Sharks vented their frustrations with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players' Association Executive Director Bob Goodenow in bars, on talk radio, and on message boards. What's more, the lack of a hockey season could have a serious economic impact on San Jose, where a rabid fan base has gradually evolved since the team's inception in 1991. Are you an apologist for the Sharks' lost 2004-2005 season? Take our quiz and find out!

1) The strike-killed season comes at a bad time for professional hockey, when television ratings have plummeted and the league has drawn unwanted attention for on-ice violence. The average NHL player makes more than his counterpart in the much more popular National Football League, and yet the owners claim the league is going bankrupt. What do you think the canceled season says about the state of the game?

A) Wait a minute. People make millions of dollars playing hockey? And they're complaining?

B) At least hockey doesn't have a steroid problem. We hope.

C) I'm heartbroken. Only once in 112 years has there not been a Stanley Cup champion -- in 1919, when players fell ill because of the Spanish influenza pandemic that killed more than 20 million people worldwide. And you know what? This is a real tragedy.

2) The canceled NHL season is especially hard on Sharks fans, who were looking forward to a repeat of last season's surprising success. The team posted a remarkable 43-21-12-6 regular season record before making a run deep into the playoffs, finally losing in the Western Conference finals to the Calgary Flames. What did you expect from the Sharks this season?

A) Um, I'm still trying to figure out how 43-21-12-6 is a record.

B) Fights. That's why I watch, really.

C) Oh, man, this would have been the Sharks' year -- Stanley Cup all the way, baby! And we'd cap everything off with a loud, confetti-filled victory parade, straight down ... well, actually, I'm not sure where the victory parade would be. The 101, I guess.

3) After the season's cancellation was announced, an "Open Letter to Sharks Fans" appeared on the team's official Web site. Signed by President and CEO Greg Jamison, the letter claimed no ill will on the part of owners toward players, but attributed the lost season to a "need for correction to the current system in which we manage our business partnership." Which of the following statements from Jamison's letter do you find the most ludicrous?

A) "We remain hopeful that the situation can be resolved soon, so we can continue working hard on our ultimate goal -- bringing a Stanley Cup to the city of San Jose."

B) "Certainly, our fans and our partners have a myriad of questions. In all candor, many of them can't be answered at the present time."

C) "This truly is Sharks Territory." (Bonus point for adding: "I mean, one girl swimming with some seals gets eaten, and everyone starts freaking out.")

4) Although many are worried about the impact on local businesses, arena employees, and the city's coffers, San Jose officials have tried to put a positive spin on the lack of a professional hockey season, arguing that fans are now free to focus their attention and money on the other local sports, including San Jose Earthquakes soccer, San Jose SaberCats arena football, San Jose Stealth lacrosse, and San Jose Spiders women's basketball. Do you think these teams will help make up for the nonexistent Sharks season?

A) Maybe if they played spectator sports.

B) I'm a hockey fan in San Jose. Can you picture me rooting for something called a "Stealth"?

C) Hey, this would be the perfect time to go see a Warriors game! Oh, wait, this just in: Their season has been canceled, too.

5) San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ray Ratto, writing for, summed up Americans' attitude toward the ruined hockey season thusly: "The NHL lockout seized the public's imagination only to the extent that a 12-car pileup on the interstate caused by a monkey driving an RV would -- with people whistling in admiration, 'Man, that's pretty stupid.'" As a Sharks fan, how would you respond?

A) "No, Ray, that's not what's stupid."

B) "You know, I have a hard time believing a monkey could even reach the pedals of an RV."

C) "Honestly, I think a lot more people would be interested in seeing the footage of a monkey driving an RV -- and would genuinely admire such an effort -- than care a tinker's cuss about the hockey season. But maybe I just don't get the analogy."

6) What, in your mind, is the best part about being a loyal fan of the San Jose Sharks?

A) One of the players is named Cheechoo.

B) It's really, really easy to find street parking around the HP Pavilion.

C) Teal underwear.

7) In your opinion, who is ultimately to blame for the breakdown in talks between players and management that has led to this historic crisis in professional hockey?

A) No clue.

B) We're dealing with hockey players here -- it's gonna take some time.

C) Canadians.

How to score:

Score zero points for every "A" answer, one point for every "B," and two points for every "C."

0-6 points: At least there's plenty of other exciting nightlife in downtown San Jose ....

7-10 points: Great! Now you can catch up on all your college hockey.

11-14 points: Cheer up: The HP Pavilion's got Disney on Ice -- Monsters, Inc. next week. Maybe someone will fall and skin a knee.

About The Author

Matt Palmquist


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