Pucker up for hockey

Guess who’s back. Back again. Hockey’s back. Tell a friend.

(North) America’s favorite winter pastime is back after the National Hockey League’s players reluctantly agreed to multi-year multi-million dollar salaries, while owners were guaranteed free foot rubs and massages every other Thursday.

Three lockouts in less than 18 months is not a great sign for this country and the only sport that hasn’t locked out recently baseball has had its own share of off-the-field testosterone-injecting, steroid-abusing, bubble gum-chewing problems.

The thing about this recent lockout is that no one expected a bunch of nice, polite Canadians to be so selfish and deprive their fans of icy entertainment.

Just kidding there’s also Russian, Slovak, Czech, Swiss, Swedish, and on rare occasions, some Kazakhstani players. And on even rarer occasion, some American players.

Nevertheless, I will forgive them. Hockey is too underrated in this country, and while I admit that I have not been a puckhead since birth, I am growing more and more attached to this sport.

It is tied with football on my list of best sports to watch live and is number one on the list if you have front row seats right up on the glass.

The hockey environment is so unique, too.

On the football field, you find men in tight pants hugging each other to the ground. That said, it’s still a great sport.

On the ice, you find men in shorts and high socks bashing each other into walls and giving one another black eyes.

I mean how can you not like a sport where every game, each players pulls a Metta World Peace.

It’s a sport where when you start fighting, you don’t get ejected from the game and it makes you appear as an even better player.

I’ll never remember when I was at a Sharks game and a brawl was about to ensue on the ice so I began yelling, “Fight! Fight! Fight!,” but my parents gave me a dirty look that said, “We don’t condone that kind of behavior.”

See what I mean! Here’s an opportunity to rebel against your parents even more because it’s one of the few sports that parents grimace at when watching with their kids.

To summarize, let me give you my top five reasons why you should watch this year’s lockout-shortened NHL season:

5. These players are freaking skillful. I can barely ice skate for more than 20 seconds at a time, much less check people into the boards and punch someone’s nose while staying balanced on the ice.

4. The only other professional sport in February and March is basketball. Sorry NBA, but you’re only fun during the playoffs.

3. In the NHL, the All-Star game rosters are determined by a draft by two captains who draft their respective teams from a pool of the league’s best players whom the fans voted for. Best idea ever. (NBA take note.)

2. We as a nation have a moral responsibility to not let Major League Soccer replace the NHL as a top-4 sports league.

1. You will be supporting Canada’s economy, which has taken a hit by this year’s maple syrup shortage.

So perhaps it’s just my Canadian blood, but I am looking forward to hockey this year. Tell your parents that it’s just as family-friendly as a game of Monopoly.

Take journalist Steve Rushin’s word for it: “By the age of 18, the average American has witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television, most of them occurring during Game One of the NHL playoff series.”

Puck on.

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