Back on the ice: Knock, knock … it’s the NHL, remember?

by | Jan 13, 2013 | Detroit Free Press, Sports | 0 comments

The bell rang. A boy opened the door. He saw hundreds of men on his front porch.

“We’re back!”

“Who are you?”


“Lemme call my dad.”

“No, wait. It’s you we want. The young fan. You’re the future.”

“That’s what my teacher says.”

“Smart woman.”

“He’s a guy.”

“Right. Is he a Wings fan?”

“A what?”

“The Red Wings! Your local team! They play at Joe Louis Arena!”

“Nobody plays at Joe Louis Arena. Me and my dad drive past there and it’s empty.”

“Not for long. Look at us. Don’t you remember? These guys with the sticks? They’re the players.”

“What happened to their teeth?”

“Long story. And these guys in the suits? They’re the coaches.”

“Who are those men in the limos?”

“They’re the owners. Wave hello, owners!… Uh, well, they’re on their cell phones. They’ll wave in a minute.”

“What do you want?”

“To tell you all is well! To say we’re back in business! It’s time to watch us play!”

“I’m kind of busy.”

“Busy? With what?”

“Homework. My Xbox. Facebook.”

“But we’re chock full of action!”

“So is Call of Duty. Can I go back to it?”

A game? No, business

The mass of bodies scrambled around, pushing certain players toward the front.

“Look, we’ve got stars!” hockey said. “You know these guys, right? Evgeni Malkin? Ilya Kovalchuk?”

“Why are their names so funny?”

“They’re Russian.”

“My dad says Russia is the enemy.”

“Not hockey players. What about Pavel Datsyuk? He plays here in Detroit!”

“Where is he?”

“At home in Russia, in an All-Star game. Wait… I mean…”

“Lemme call my dad.”

“Hold on! Don’t you remember hockey? We were on TV every night.”

“When was that?”

“Last spring.”

“That’s a real long time ago. There are lots of TV shows from last spring I don’t remember.”

“But we’re more than a show! We’re a sport!”

“Then how come you went away?”

“We had to settle some things.”

“What things?”

“How much money we’d get.”

“You said you were a sport.”

“We are.”

“When I play sports, all I get is sweaty.”

Fighting? Sorry, Gary

Hockey grew nervous. After the labor stoppage, it needed to win back fans. How else could it raise the billions it had just spent half a year fighting over?

“Wait, watch this,” hockey said.

It took a hose and froze the front lawn.

“My dad’s gonna be mad,” the boy said.

“Just look. See how the man shoots the puck?”

“What’s a puck?”

“The little black thing.”

“I can’t see it.”

“Yes, that can be a problem. But watch how fast he skates!”

“Can he dunk?”

“Excuse me?”

“Like the guys in my NBA PlayStation?”

“There’s no dunking in hockey.”

“Can he tackle? Like in Madden 2012?”

“Uh, not really -“

“How about fighting?”


“Yeah, like MMA or WWF?”

Hockey looked at itself. “Well, now that you mention it…”

Hockey winked, and the players began beating on each other. The boy laughed and clapped. Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, buried his face in his hands.

“Cool!” the boy exclaimed.

“So you’ll watch us?” hockey pleaded.

“When are you on?”

“Every night from now until summer. We’re trying to cram a season in.”

“I’ll try. But my dad says I shouldn’t talk to strangers, so I gotta go.”

“Just remember. N-H-L. We’re back.”

“I have to lock you out now.”

“Don’t say lockout.”

“And can you shut the hose off, please?”

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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