The Calgary Flames were the first to say sorry, which probably means they mean it, and probably shouldn’t be taken as an admission that they are somehow extra-guilty in the foolery of the NHL’s four-month labour debacle.
That was early Sunday morning, not long after the two sides announced they’d struck a deal. The Pittsburgh Penguins were one of the first teams to post a statement on a website, in which co-owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux started by saying how little they had to say:
We offer our apology. There is nothing we can say to explain or excuse what has happened over the past four months.
Did anyone else get an e-mail from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday? Mine thanked me for my patience, which is “tremendous.” Thanking Penguin fans for their support (which is “amazing”), the owners there spoke of both “our quest to bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh” and “our commitment to winning the Stanley Cup,” but in modest Toronto, the best that the team was ready to offer was: “We remain committed to ensuring we ice a winning team that competes with the NHL’s best.”
“This Is Oil Country,” said the Edmonton Oilers, over at their site.
#RaiseTheTorch, said the Montreal Canadiens.
No sorry, no Stanley Cup in Boston president Cam Neely’s statement which went, in its entirety, like this: “We are all very excited that the NHL and the NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement, and we look forward to dropping the puck and playing Bruins Hockey in front of our fans at the TD Garden soon.”
Buffalo was supposed to have apologized to its supporters, but the contrition must have had evaporated by the time I got over there, leaving only trace amounts of sincere thanks for fanly patience just ahead of an affirmation that “winning the Stanley Cup” remains job number one for the team.
In Los Angeles, it was Kings’ president Luc Robitaille who said thanks for all your support, fans, not to mention your patience but, please, hold your questions, the wheres and whens of when the season might be getting underway and how to buy tickets. Which sounds (it has to be said) not so very patient in itself. Then again, the Kings did win the Cup last time out, so maybe that’s a tone honestly earned.
From Chicago, the message was, Thank you, fans, for all the blood!
(They had a holiday blood donation drive, I guess.)
I used the search window at NHL.com to find the league’s apology, but it may be that it’s broken. The last time anyone there seems to have expressed remorse was back in the middle of September, when deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, “I’m sure we will keep in touch in the coming days and schedule meetings to the extent they might be useful or appropriate. We are sorry for where we are. Not what we hoped or expected.”