What A Wonderful Hockey World

Damn, it is a wonderful world. - Bruce Bennett

Gary Bettman got you down? No worries. Let Satchmo brighten your day!

The National Hockey League -- the league that, up until about three months ago, we as Kings fans had most of our energy and emotion devoted to ­-- does not, at the moment, exist. That sucks, for obvious reasons. Without the league and its teams to follow, we as hockey fans become lost, forced to go the way of the North American soccer fan and turn our eyes overseas to follow our favorite players. Or maybe you are doing what I'm doing and watching way too much television and listening to a lot of music. Speaking of music, you know a good song? Louie Armstrong's What a Beautiful World. Whatever you were thinking is probably not a good song. Your music tastes are so unrefined, you make me sick, you slack-jawed yokel.

Louie Armstrong's song -- written by Bob Thiele -- focuses on the beauty of the world we live in. He's right, it is beautiful. And what a great message. It's positive. It's upbeat. It makes you think of the frivolity of labor disputes, and the desire of many of us to hate our fellow man.

But, perhaps Satchmo was wrong. This world, for us cynical sports fans, is an endless series of crushing defeats, each one more devastating than the last. How exciting for Kings fans to see their team make it to the playoffs for the first time in forever in 2010, only to fold to a tougher Vancouver team! Oh, and what joy it was watching the 2010-11 campaign -- the youth of the franchise starting to show the promise expected of them -- only to have Kopitar turn his ankle into a carpenter's square a week before the playoffs, manage to take a 4-0 lead in Game 3 of the first round before going on to lose in overtime, and ultimately bow out of the playoffs at the hands of a division rival!

The point here is that the world did not look so beautiful. Let's call it "funny" instead. Not funny "ha ha," but more like: "Oh look, honey, isn't it funny that the store is out of turkey a week before Thanksgiving?" Not an amused type of funny, I can assure you.

Funny, because less than a year later, in late February, the highly touted Kings fell out of the top eight in the Western Conference. At that moment we all had that feeling deep in the pit of our stomach that comes with following a loser. And let's face it, forty-plus years of losing makes you a loser. It sucks, I know, but it is what it is. We don't want to follow a loser; most of us follow because we love hockey and love Los Angeles or this particular organization for some reason or another. Losing is incidental, but our brains are conditioned to easily lapse into Draconian methods of fixing a losing organization. "Burn it down, pee on the ashes." "Put Lombardi on the next bus out of town." "What has AEG ever really done for us?" "Brown sucks." "Quick sucks." "Johnson sucks." "Doughty sucks." "Darryl Sutter is the Whore of Babylon." If it makes you feel any better, most sports fans follow a loser at some point in their lives. Anyway, the world looked pretty crappy for Kings fans.

Three months later they are throwing a parade down Figueroa and Jon Quick is dropping bombs -- possibly other bombs -- in front of small children and the elderly because he ain't care WE GOT THE CUP, and no one can tell a winner to "Tone it down a bit, bro."

Now we Kings fans finally follow a winner, and despite the NHL's non-existence, the names of those players are still on the greatest trophy in sports history (except Loktionov). Hockey still exists. It's all around us, in fact. Life goes on without the NHL, thus hockey goes on without the NHL.

And as long as hockey is still around, isn't it a wonderful world? Louie Armstrong would probably think so, despite the fact that his song focuses on the beauty of nature. Never mind that, you should ignore that fact all together. The song is about hockey, I can assure you.

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