During the NHL lockout, The Gazette provided a fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employed EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. The fantasy Habs were slated to play the Florida Panthers Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, but that game won’t be played and the fantasy season is officially over. Here is Hickey’s final fantasy story, explaining how the season ended:
Will a strike cost yet another Montreal franchise a shot at a championship?
That’s the question Montreal fans are asking themselves after the National Hockey League fantasy season came to an abrupt halt Tuesday when the players went on strike.
“It’s obvious that negotiations were going nowhere and the players had no choice but to walk out,” said Don Fehr, the head of the National Hockey League Players Association. “We agreed to play while we were negotiating, but the league continued to reject our proposals. The last straw was when the teams insisted on limiting the peanuts on team charters to one bag per player.”
Said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly: “That was a hill we were prepared to die on. It may seem like an insignificant matter, but when you add it up it’s not, well, it’s not peanuts.”
Said Fehr: “We feel sorry for the fans who have supported us, but I think that anyone who flies has sympathy for our stand.”
For fans in Montreal, the collapse of the negotiations evoked painful memories of 1994, when Fehr led a strike by Major League Baseball players. The walkout resulted in the cancellation of the World Series and deprived the Expos of a chance to prove they were the best team in baseball.
The walkout occurred hours before the Canadiens were scheduled to play the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre.
Several thousand fans who were unaware of the cancellation showed up at the arena. As a goodwill gesture, Canadiens management invited them into the building and offered them free beer and wine while they were treated to a 30-minute presentation on the advantages of living in the new Tour des Canadiens.