Hockey is a business. There. I said it. Once in a while I face this cruel reminder. Don’t worry. I am not going to turn this into my personal “I am still upset about Erik Cole leaving” blog, but if I said I am ready to see him in a Habs uniform I would be lying. Playing hockey is a job. Players have employment contracts, get paychecks, and have health insurance. They take the jobs that are the best for them and their families if they’ve got them. They just happen to go to work on a sheet of ice with sharp implements strapped to their feet, carry sticks and shoot chunks of vulcanized rubber into targets.
Lots of fans are fine with the business of hockey. The trade deadline rolls around and they park themselves in front of the computer excited to see who gets shuffled around. The same thing goes on with free agency. I keep reading tweets this week about how this is “an exiting time of the year!” I don’t personally find it exciting. I find it to be an emotional roller-coaster and about as fun as watching a corporate reorg. I have made an emotional investment in the players, because the hockey club has made me care about them. The players have made me care about them.
Why are fans talking about Tim Brent and Anthony Stewart so much this week? Immediately after both were announced as Hurricanes they took to Twitter and started tweeting to fans. Both of them asked questions about North Carolina and the Raleigh area. Stewart wanted to know how to find Ric Flair, but Brent was looking for somewhere to go catch some fish. There was no shortage of answers from fans. (Lake Gaston. Score a goal and you will find out.) Brent even asked the fans to help him decide what jersey number to wear. Before they even hit Carolina ice we know that Stewart is funny and Brent is an outdoorsman. They were making connections with people. The business of being human.
Caniacs pack the Backyard Bistro restaurant when Chad LaRose is the featured guest on the Canes Corner radio show. Is Chad the best player on the team? No. But he is the funniest. Is he just a cog in the wheel? Employee number 59? Or is he “Rosey,” the guy that makes us laugh while working his day job.
Players show us their personal sides. Hockey clubs market their "employees" so we grow to care about them. And it works. And sometimes they move on. The players understand it's just business. It's this fan that can't seem to accept it.
Follow @Astew22 and @Brenter37 on Twitter to get emotionally attached.
Is hockey “just business” to you? Is player shuffling exciting or gut wrenching? Tell us in the comments.