It's the night before the Stanley Cup playoffs are supposed to start, it's August, it's unusual but here we are. Because 2020
As I sit in a bar I see hockey walk in, he seems to be wearing that stupid All-Star Game jersey. I give him a quick joke about how bad it looked, but he said St Louis liked it. He orders a Molson because of course, he does.
He asks how I've been, I take a big gulp of my beer and I tell him I really miss them. I was hoping he would stick around once the virus started to kick up here in the US around March. But with the way the world was going, it's no real surprise he had to go away.
It was for the greater good he stopped playing, I was told, at the time and I believed it. There are more important things in life than hockey and he went away. I was unsure when my best friend was going to come back, but everything else went away, two weeks to flatten the Curve.
We got by on re-watching old games from afar, you showed me the 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins and Mario Lemieux. That was the team that made me become a hockey fan, even though I was too young to understand it.
We re-watched a lot of old series, some Stanley Cup championships, and some games I never wanted to see again. He reminds me of Evgeni Kuznetsov game 6 in overtime, I take another big sip of my beer.
However, there were only so many games that he could send my way before the Vault was beginning to run dry. He apologized and said he had to figure out how he was going to finish the season, even if that was possible.
Then an innocent man got killed by a corrupt cop, all hell broke loose. Protests, screaming, riots, destruction, I put my beer down, hang my head. Everybody had an opinion about what was happening.
I was told that my opinion didn't matter, cities that he occupied for getting burned and vandalized. Everybody was screaming, shouting, pointing fingers for blame.
I look them in the eye and I tell him where were you?! Both countries needed you and you weren't here.
He tells me he was making preparations so he could return to play. I tell him I was scared, I was depressed, no one was talking about him, even at the beginning of Summer, a black cloud hung over both countries. People kept telling me you weren't coming back, that we should just end it now and wait till October.
I stood up for him, even as all the old-timers said it wasn't going to come back
As July came, there was a glimmer of hope, players were returning to the rink with caution. He tells me that just a few weeks ago, we are starting to talk hockey again.
Yeah, we were, I told him of all the new friends that I made and how we can talk about hockey once again. He said he was nervous when all the players voted, and he was pleasantly surprised to see. So many people wanted to play the sport once again, even if it wasn't at the normal time of year.
He says things have been going well up in the great white North. Toronto and Edmonton have their bubble setup and we are going to play playoff hockey.
I tell hockey I really miss him, he tells me it's going to be okay. He says players are going to kneel or lock arms and say what needs to be said. I tell him I don't care, not because I don't care, but because let them do what they want, it's their right.
We share a laugh and another round of Molson, as we both exit the bar. I tell him good luck with the playoffs tomorrow he says, be ready.
So to hockey I say, I missed you, from a fan that's followed you for the better part of two decades. You helped me form a community of friends and my future wife.
Drop The Puck and let's play hockey
That's my opinion.