No propaganda, just hockey in San Jose

December 17, 2012, 8:30 am
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It's been 171 days since the first negotiations, and 93 official days of the NHL lockout.  

With progressive announcements through December 30th, 526 games have been canceled, including 35 involving the San Jose Sharks.

There's no mistaking it, hiding it, or disguising it, we are all thoroughly disappointed that disagreements between players and owners have halted the league for the third time in the last 20 years.  Hard to believe that a $3.3 billion per-year business can't find a way to avoid history repeating itself.

Tonight, the Sharks franchise will extend a symbolic olive branch to frustrated fans, by hosting their ECHL affiliate, the San Francisco Bulls in a regular-season game against the Stockton Thunder. Complimentary passes were distributed to season-ticket holders, with the remaining lot being given away online in a first-come-first-serve process that took only five minutes.  All indications lead to a very crowded HP Pavilion this evening, for the first professional hockey game since April 16, 2012.

The Sharks logo is already painted at center ice, along with many of the familiar touches one would expect for an NHL game in the building.  However, the San Jose franchise is not pushing any lockout propaganda in putting on this "free" game, only making two suggestions which are worthy of passing along here.

First, if you are headed to the game: please support the downtown San Jose businesses and restaurants that normally thrive during hockey season.  They are innocent bystanders in the labor stoppage, just like you, the fan.  One night of higher revenues might not make a huge dent in the 16 home dates that have already been nixed, but it will at least send an appropriate message.

Secondly, consider bringing a new, unwrapped toy that can be collected at either of the main entrances at HP Pavilion.  They will be donated to the "Toys for Tots" Foundation and gifted to less fortunate children during the holiday season.  All donors will receive a raffle ticket for prize drawings to be held during the night.

Many of the Sharks broadcasters will be in attendance, including Randy Hahn and Bret Hedican.  The game will not be broadcast on television, but I will be there covering the contest with live reports at 6:00 and 10:30 on SportsNet Central.  Can't wait to see a lot of familiar faces, in a familiar place tonight!