Justin K. Aller
With the lockout over, it's time to celebrate.
If you’re reading this, you probably found out in a similar way. Maybe you were waking up for an early-morning workout per your New Year’s resolution. Maybe you were getting your family together for church. Or maybe you were receiving a consistent flow of texts messages, blowing up your phone beneath your pillow (ahem).
Regardless of how, the words still ring true. It’s all over. Finished. Hockey players can finally be hockey players and fans can finally be fans.
I went to church last night and after Communion, I was praying in the pews. Usually, it feels silly to spend those five minutes of prayer for contract negotiations and for millionaires to figure out how to ration their millions, but that’s exactly what I did. My usual intentions were dropped because, at that point, I selfishly needed hockey back.
We were all at that point, especially with how close a contract felt the last few days.
If you aren't Catholic or familiar with the ways of the Church, you might not understand the significance of the phrase "Habemus Papam!" After the pope dies and, after a sometimes lengthier than usual papal conclave, a new pope is elected, "Habemus Papam!" is announced from the Vatican. It literally means "We have a pope" in Latin. Those words signify new beginnings for the Church under new leadership. Which is why I say to all of you: "Habemus Hockey!"
After being hockey-less since April, Consol Energy Center will finally be painted with the Penguin logo once again. When I receive texts to go out, I will finally be able to say, "I can’t…there’s a Pens game." I will finally be able to wear my Pens jersey without looking like a fool desperate for hockey. The hockey community will finally be talking about contenders for the Cup and top penalty kills, not pensions and contract term limits.
This isn't time for analysis or strings of sentences that make sense. It’s a time to celebrate. There’s a good chance I will spend tomorrow evening (since the Redskins are playing tonight) not far from Kettler Iceplex with my Caps friends, toasting to new beginnings and a new season. Then we can go back to jawing each other’s loyalties.
For now, all I can say is HABEMUS HOCKEY!