As The Beast went to press on Thursday, the National Hockey League held its annual meeting to discuss tactics for selling their un-watchable product to a blase nation of “Survivor” viewers. Rumored to be among the potential items on the table at the meeting was the prospect of the NHL intervening in the dire financial situation in Buffalo and the league even taking over control at HSBC Arena.
We at the Beast say, Great, whatever it takes. Let us examine some of the ramifications of there being NHL standards and guidelines imposed on Buffalo: Anyone in violation of the helmet rule, excepting of course those exempt through a “grandfather” clause, would be removed from the streets of civic activities. Now that may seem a difficult condition to accept, however, big, tough, fat, ugly bikers in like forty-six states have learned to live with the ignominy of wearing head protection, right alongside pantywaists like optometrists on $20,000 Harleys and alternative newspaper publishers zooming about on Bavarian cafe scooters.
Phil Esposito driving a zamboni
Beer prices would rise dramatically from their now third-world levels, pricing many people, who have no business getting drunk enough to fuck and potentially procreate anyway, right out of the arena. Ridiculous, oversized, and exorbitantly priced “authentic” teamwear would be the only available clothing, but we would at least know where everyone’s allegiance stood.
In Buffalo now, as in much of the rest of the state, the penalty for icing could be up to a lifetime in prison. By NHL standards, icing results only in a do-over in the offender’s “zone.” So we would all have to watch our steps and mouths a bit more closely and the meek be damned.
The NHL has long been in the practice of expanding its interests in unlikely geographic areas like North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona, while forsaking its loyal fan bases in places like Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Quebec City, Quebec. If they were to take that approach in Buffalo they may move the Albright-Knox Art Museum to Riverside, making room for some titty bars and OTBs along the Olmstead Crescent. Then maybe that fruity Shakespeare-in-the Park crew would fly the coop and we could put a long-needed thoroughbred racetrack in the center of the metropolitan area, Delaware Park. Who knows, if enough of those snoooty I-wish-Buffalo-were-Paris blowhards were to haul ass we might be able to attract some NASCAR/Winston Cup action to town and not have to drive over to Watkins Glen or out to Brooklyn, Michigan, and whereever the hell else all summer through.
There would certainly be drawbacks to an NHL-run city. There would be theme nights, ad infintium. Gordie Howe, Stan Makita, Guy Richard, Tim Horton in one long, grim death march… skateless, slipping and sliding around on makeshift patches of ice prepared for each’s appearance. You may wake some mornings, look out your window and see, maybe, Phil Esposito perched high upon the back of a slow-rolling Zamboni, wearing a strained but fatuous smile, pathetically waving toward the upper-floor windows of the houses on your street. That’s no way to start the day.
On the other hand we could all probably get used to a town where, when a guy gives you a bad check, you just knock his teeth out and are only given a two-minute minor. All personal injuries would be handled promptly by the league and would usually result in token fines and brief suspensions. Hell, unless Cellino & Barnes can make dentures, plates, bridges, and such, they would be out of business.
We all know the old joke–Q: Why do Canadians do it doggy-style? A: So they can both watch the hockey game.
The Beast would worry that our sometimes not-so-acute neighbors (to the North) may misconstrue the implications of the nature of our potential arrangement with the NHL and they, expecting a spirited round of four-checking and two-line passes, may position themselves ever so unsightily along the banks of the Niagara River, opposite our fair city, hoping to catch a glimpse of our nightly game.
Could we endure that visual? Would the children of our sexually repressed community understand the inherent beauty in the tender acts of our softer bordermates?
Desperate times call for desperate measures. We need to decide now if these times are desperate enough for us have our police force ride three to a car and surrender those cute little arm patches with the lighthouse and the boat for the more internationally recognized black-and-white “zebra” stripes.
Moreover, there are larger issues that loom. Will an NHL-controlled district mean the systematic exclusion of black people? Is that a loss we can bear? In that eventuality, would Luther Vandross or Ol’ Dirty Bastard even route their subsequent tours through Buffalo? Would an NHL regime mean the virtual extinction of Americans from our streets? Would packs of enigmatic Eastern Europeans control our passing lanes? Would statuesque Scandinavians be entrusted with our defensive schemes?
These are all questions that need closer examination as we await the developments that will ensue from the meetings yesterday.