Hockey is back. It's a great day for hockey!

Geno Malkin is back! Photo by Tom Peracchio

The phrase "It's a great day for hockey!"  will be heard many times as the season kicks off.

As we celebrate, finally, the beginning of the 2013 NHL season, we take a moment to reflect as well.

"It's a great day for hockey!" has a bit deeper meaning for many hockey fans than simply a catchy slogan.

Badger Bob Johnson coach of 1991 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins is remembered by players for his passion for coaching. Johnson is remembered by fans and players alike for his endless optimism and love for the game of hockey, and his often used phrase, "It's a great day for hockey."

Badger Bob was one of hockey's greatest fans. Johnson earned the nickname "Badger Bob" as coach of the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he led the Badgers for sixteen season, leading them to seven NCAA tournaments and three national titles.

Johnson started his National Hockey League coaching career in 1982 with the Calgary Flames. Johnson coached the Flames for five seasons.

The 1990 - 1991 season was Johnson's first season as the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins leading them to their first Stanley Cup in team history. 

Sadly Johnson's Stanley Cup winning season in 1991 would be his last. In August of 1991 Badger Bob suffered a brain aneurysm and was diagnosed with brain cancer a short time later.  Bob Johnson passed away on November 26, 1991.

In celebration of the game we love let's get excited about the game and take a moment to remember one of the game's biggest fans as we all proclaim...

"It's a great day for hockey!"

 

Geno Malkin is back
Photo by Tom Peracchio

End of the world is near for the National Hockey League

We started talking about the NHL lockout months ago, what seems like so long ago, as back in October we proclaimed, "NHL lockout: fans need to make some noise!"

With what we hope is not our last story about hockey this year on It's Only Sports we discussed earlier this week,  "Wishful thinking that an NHL season still possible."

Only a few days ago optimism was on the rise with both sides talking. There was real hope that the lockout could be coming to an end.

After a week of talking about issues, the tone is one again shifting negative as talk of negotiations turns to talk of legal actions and court rooms.

A very real end of the world for the National Hockey League 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has told the union that a deal needs to be in place by January 11 so a 48 game season can begin eight days later.

We all escaped the often promised apocalypse on December 21, 2012.  But for hockey fans, the deadline of January 11, 2013 is much more than some arbitrary date on an ancient calendar.  If the NHL players and owners do not reach an agreement January 11 is a very real end of the world for hockey fans.

The second lost season in less than ten years is not going to sit well with the fans. The NHL players and owners should realize that if this hockey season does not start in January, the end of the NHL as we know it is a very real possibility.

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