To come fully clean on this, I can’t stand Black Friday. Even Cyber Monday does little to rattle my holiday spirit in late November. My Christmas tree isn’t up yet, and I only have one person on my list bought for right now.

There, glad that’s off my shoulders.

On the bright side, at least my holiday cheer isn’t as Grinch-like as Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr’s. In the season of giving, the two continue to play a high-stakes game of chicken, riding in dumpsters filled with the shattered hopes of labor peace. I know, how could I say that when they gave us the best Black Friday deal around?

Another cut to the NHL season.

That last part was sarcasm, of course. As I received an e-mail from StubHub last night reminding me games were cancelled up to Dec. 14, my holiday cheer fell a bit. It’s bad enough being this far away from the Madhouse on Madison, Then having more games cancelled and fellow Blackhawks fans posting a video of shootout magician Patrick Kane schooling a goalie in his Swiss league was salt in the wound.

I’d really like to say I won’t go back to the NHL whenever it decides to return, but I will. The red Indian-head sweaters and Chelsea Dagger blasting every time the lamp is lit will be too hard to ignore. That said, I’ll even take a Red Wings-Canucks game at this point.

While I’ll eventually get into the Christmas spirit, this hockey thing would really help. The NFL and college football will be over before we know it. Basketball, especially the NBA, will not be stopped on very often during my channel surf. At least not until Derrick Rose returns to the hard court.

And as of today, 75 days until pitchers and catchers report.

So this is where things get interesting in my sport-viewing life. When football is over and baseball remains on the horizon, what do I do? Do I hand the remote over to my girlfriend until February/March?

I’m not sure I’m ready for nights filled with Lifetime and HGTV quite yet.

I could turn to college hockey, which I do enjoy, but when it comes down to it the player-for-player talent of the NHL is marveling to watch. You just don’t get that at the college level.

If anyone is looking for something they can get me, and millions of other hockey fans, this holiday season, it’s the NHL season.

Bring back the captain, Jonathan Toews and bring back Kane—just not in those ugly, ad-filled European uniforms.

Bring it back so maybe, just maybe, Bettman and Fehr won’t be the Grinches that stole hockey from Hockeytown.

Burnes is a reporter for the Williston Herald. He can be reached at 572-2165 or by email at