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Brother Karsh's Column for LetsGoPens.com

Many Thanks

November 27, 2003

There are a number of holidays that do their best to strong-arm you into feeling a certain way on a certain day. New Year's Eve reserves an annual dance for the memories of the past. Valentine's Day practically demands that you celebrate a reverence for all love has to offer whether you want to or not. And gratitude? For that you'll need the last Thursday in November, isle seven, please watch your step.

That's right, paleface, if you're anything other than one of the indigenous people of this land, you're supposed to be pretty thankful right about now—like it or not.

Feeling the effects of a sputtering economy? In the throes of a heart-wrenching relationship? Have a drink. Professional malaise? Personal ennui? All of the above? Maybe you simply haven't tried the candied yams.

Point is, you need to buck up, buckaroo, because nobody likes a killjoy during the holiday season. Besides, this country was built on repression in some form or another, so if you're blue around this time of year you should know that while you may not be alone, if you could just experience your melancholy on your own time the rest of the party would be ever so appreciative. Oh, and would ya pass the stuffing while you're at it?

Still, sometimes you can't help the way you feel. As they say around February 14th, the heart wants what it wants and that's something Hallmark will never be able to dictate.

The truth is, there are a ton of reasons to be down on any number of things right now, including this hockey team. There just are, but there are also a number of reasons to hope for the future and be thankful for what you have today.

Correction, there are a number of little reasons to hope for the future and there's one big reason to be thankful for what you have today. That one, large, rather overwhelming reason is that no one is promised tomorrow—and that includes the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Say what you want about years down the road, about how the Penguins are building for two, even three seasons from now (which they are). Forget about how all the losses this season increase the chances at nabbing a shiny new right winger named Alex Ovechkin in the draft six months from now. None of that changes one very salient fact. That fact is that two or three seasons from now, these Penguins may not be in Pittsburgh.

This isn't a Chicken Little, woe is us, kind of yarn, this is just the reality of the situation. Yes, it's certainly nice to hear Don Cherry, the de facto voice of hockey in Canada, proclaim that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman loves the game and would never let it shut down as the expiration of the league's labor agreement threatens to do at the end of this season. But when you hear other reports, ones that say the NHLPA is telling its union members—a.k.a., current NHL players—to prepare for a twenty-month lockout, the reality starts to sink in.

If, as in the worst-case scenario, the league does close its doors for twenty months, hockey fans are looking at not one, but basically two entire hockey seasons lost.

Should that be the case, it means a few things for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

First, it certainly means the end of Mario Lemieux on the ice. Lemieux is having trouble staying healthy and on the ice right now so it's safe to assume that another two years of age will almost assuredly prohibit him from suiting up again, and he has to know it.

Next it means that the Penguins, the business that has steadily lost money for years now, will have virtually no income for at least a year and a half.

Granted, the Penguins have been cutting payroll for some time and preparing for something like this, but if a worst-case scenario were to unfold it's very difficult to see the Penguins both surviving with no revenue stream and getting the help they need to build them the new arena which is vital to the team staying in business and staying in town.

None of which is to suggest that Penguin fans should simply throw up their hands and walk away. It's merely a reminder of the plight of the Indian with regard to the plethora of the pilgrim, the suggestion that this holiday season, Penguin fans should be truly thankful.

Penguin fans should be thankful that they are guaranteed another thirty home games this year no matter what.

Thankful that, at some point, Mario Lemieux will return to the ice this season, even if it's only just to say goodbye.

Thankful that Pittsburgh native Ryan Malone has the chance to be something so special to both the team and the town.

Thankful that General Manager Craig Patrick's draft-day deal brought the team a talent as rare as Marc-Andre Fleury.

Thankful that for the first time in a long time, the Penguins put as much effort out on the ice as they do talent, probably more.

Thankful that there is still a chance all involved will wake up and grasp the fact that a new arena for the Penguins is fiscally smart for the community, the city, and the state.

Thankful that as the snow falls and hockey season gets into full swing, there is still something special to be seen down at the Igloo just as it's been for a generation.

Thankful that there is still a hockey night in Pittsburgh.

Of course, some may say this is not much to be thankful for. But when you're not promised tomorrow, when all you have is what's right in front of you, maybe that's when the little things are what you're thankful for most of all.

Brother Karsh appears weekly at LGP.com during the season and is thankful for the little things. Of course, he accepts PayPal as well, so he's able to be thankful for expensive and generous things too. You know, if you're into that kind of gesture.

Back to Karsh's Column List


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