That festive time of the year, where it is fashionable to think of other people for a change (unless you are an owner in the NHL, of course, in which case you pretty much stay the course of self-indulgence). Normally, this is right about when millions of hockey fans begin dreaming of opening packages filled with jerseys, sweatshirts, mugs and glasses, hats, and other assorted items adorned with the logos of their favorite NHL team. With the lockout threatening to put a damper on the season of giving, however, those dreams are turning into nightmares. I, for one, find it hard to endorse the purchase of NHL merchandise this year, on the grounds that it means supporting an organization that doesn’t seem ready to reciprocate, and I highly doubt I am the only fan who feels this way.
I’d be willing to reconsider, however, if the NHL was savvy enough to market products that were designed to help the fans survive the lockout. Okay – forget helping us survive it; maybe the NHL could just help us laugh at the lockout? No, I guess that would require that the NHL possess a sense of humor. All right then: I’m willing to settle for a line of merchandise the NHL could create solely to rub the lockout in our faces. That level of honesty would be a huge step up from the veneer of concern we are shown every day, and would finally make fans feel that the owners and players acknowledge our role in this mess. To help the NHL with this endeavor, I have created a wish list of the types of items I would eagerly encourage NHL fans to pick up this holiday season.
The NHL Lockout Whoopee Cushion
Let’s start with and oldie, but a goodie! This is the perfect item for the NHL fan with a sense of humor; it screams, “The joke’s on you!” which is pretty much what the NHL has been saying to fans throughout the lockout, anyway, so why not make it official? I’m sure every NHL fan that still retains the capacity to smile will appreciate the laugh.
The NHL Beer Helmet
Custom-designed, and comes in the colors of your favorite team with the team logo front and center. The only catch is this helmet can only be filled up by the concession workers at your team’s arena. It’s a win-win situation: you’ll still enjoy the beer you always drink at home games, and the NHL can still charge you $10 for $1 worth of beer! It’s the gift that keeps on giving, albeit it more so for the owners.
The Exploding Mascot
This one’s for the kids! Who doesn’t love NHL mascots? Well, nobody! Kids flock to these lovable lugs, such as Buffalo’s Sabretooth, Colorado’s Bernie the St. Bernard, or whatever the hell that Nordy thing in Minnesota is supposed to be. New for the lockout, this slightly more expensive counterpart to the plush toys normally sold in gift shops are programmed to detonate in their owners’ hands at precisely the moment when life seems to be perfect, teaching our youngest NHL fans a harsh lesson about how taking things for granted usually blows up in your face.
The 220/240 Volt Team Appliance Line
For the collector of foreign items! One of the great things about the NHL is the number of players who hail from overseas, so it makes sense that the NHL would want to capitalize on our interest in our friends from afar. Much like the beer helmet, these items can be custom-designed, and just like this year’s NHL players, these also currently do not work in North America.
The 2012-2013 NHL Season in Review DVD
If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself wishing that movies and TV shows were released a bit faster on DVD. Well, how’s this for fast: being able to watch ALL of the highlights of the 2012-2013 NHL season right now, before the season even begins! Now that is the sort of wait I can endorse! This six-disc set is entirely blank, of course, but believe me when I say, you won’t be wasting your time any more watching these discs than you would if you were reading the news, or watching KHL games. As an added bonus, the blank discs double as coasters! More bang for your dollar – that’s what the NHL is truly about. Note: this set is also available in a four-disc Blu-ray collection, for the fan who prefers to experience his disappointment at the highest possible level.
Another one for the kids! This remote-controlled car, which comes in a very nondescript black and white color scheme inspired by the federal mediators assigned to the CBA talks, is sure to get every young NHL fan’s hopes up. This baby sure looks good in the box, but as kids and parents will soon find out, no amount of tinkering will get this sucker to make any forward progress.
Well, there you have it folks: gift items the NHL ought to consider marketing, in the true spirit of this year’s lock-out. These gifts are currently the only NHL-sanctioned gift items that get my seal of approval, for whatever that is worth. Sure: they’re not the items we truly want, but the way I see it, for any of us stupid enough to give our money to the NHL right now, these are the gifts we deserve. Happy hunting!