It truly is good to be back. If you weren’t around for my most recent stint at FF (sometime between this lockout and the last), let me reintroduce you…

The No. 1 thing to remember when reading the Humpday Hater Report is that I write sarcastically (I’m looking at you, guy who thought I really believed Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” was actually written about hockey players in a column I wrote three or four years ago).

I only have one rule about reading my column, and I feel it hits home with our current status in the NHL: Laugh. Enjoy yourself. I know I do.

Now let’s see who’s been hatin’.

The Worcester Sharks

The Massachusetts-based AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks offered a tryout for an anthem singer before this coming Saturday night’s game with the Portland Pirates. The singer? Rene Rancourt.

Sound familiar? He should. His are the best set of pipes to sing anthems this side of the boarder. Rancourt has been belting out the Star Spangled Banner and O, Canada before Bruins games for years. With the lockout, Rancourt is out of a singing job. So the Baby Sharks offered him a tryout.

Offered him a tryout? A tryout?! I would let Rene Rancourt sing me to sleep every night without a tryout. Does he really need to try out for this job? The Sharks should be begging him to come sing the anthem at the DCU Center.

Anyway, good luck, Rene. You shouldn’t need it, but Worcester says you do.

Providence

Boston College coach Jerry York tied the NCAA all-time wins leader, Michigan State coaching legend Ron Mason, with a win over cross-town rival Boston University earlier this month. A win over Providence last Friday would’ve sealed the deal and given York sole possession of the wins record in NCAA hockey.

So what happened? A tie.

That’s right, York’s Eagles tied, 3-3, with the Friars after Providence’s Nick Saracino tied the game with 10.5 seconds left in regulation, eventually forcing the draw between the two clubs. York now has to wait until Dec. 29 to get another shot at the record, when BC plays Alabama-Huntsville.

And yes, hockey exists in Alabama.

The Eagles will take on the 3-12-1 Chargers in the Mariucci Classic, hosted by the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, to earn York the record.

I like their chances.

A feel-good story

On occasion, I like to bring some positivity to the Hater Report. Typically, that’s only when there’s little else to write about (but that only happens during lockouts, and, really, how often do they happen?).

Perhaps you’ve come across the story in the New York Times about Dave Dupuis, an Inuit from Kuujjuaq, Quebec, who has been regarded as one of the first, if not the first, Inuit to play college hockey.

Dupuis is currently a junior playing for Skidmore College, a selective Division III school located in Sarasota Springs, NY. His story is a great one, and is filled with some twists of fate that brought him to college. I invite you to look further into Dupuis’ story and hope he is the first of many more of his kind to join the sport.

ESPN

Ah yes, the Worldwide Leader in (Some) Sports. Those of you from way back will remember my disappointment with the network after the lockout, dropping all coverage of the league. While that shouldn’t have included programming content, it did. And it’s getting worse. Had ESPN continued Thursday night hockey after the 2004-05 lockout, would we be looking at as bad a situation now?

(You don’t have to answer that…just food for thought.)

Before I go any further, I will say that John Buccigross is the only person at ESPN who I feel genuinely cares about hockey (occasionally Chris McKendry, too). That being said, Buccigross tweeted his displeasure in the NHL not using NHL Network, which is pulling a ROOT Sports rewind trick until the lockout is resolved, as a communication outlet to fans.

And he’s right. But what about your network, Mr. Buccigross? When was the last time anyone turned on ESPN and saw in-depth coverage about what was going on with the lockout? (That doesn’t include the nonchalant mention-in-passing they give the NHL from time to time.) Of course, they reported on the progress that was made last week, but went back to ignoring it when things went downhill.

Now, does the NHL deserve to be ignored? Yeah, probably. But does that mean they should be ignored? Definitely not. The consumers of ESPN’s product are not to blame for the monstrosities league officials, owners, and players have created, and shouldn’t be ignored.

#Podiumwatch

Everyone was glued to the NHL’s podium last week when it appeared as though the lockout might be coming to an end. The twitterverse was especially abuzz, even seeing a faux account created to represent the podium’s thoughts and ideologies.

I admit, even I cracked a few jokes at the expense of the hashtag (just think, last time I wrote a Hater Report, few of you knew what hashtag meant…some still don’t…crazy, right?).

Word was even Pierre McGuire had prepared interview questions for the podium, after which I’m sure he was going to intentionally mispronounce the podium’s name and tell it to “have fun out there.”

But I think we’ve all hit a point where we’re simply burnt out over all the hype that stirs once a glimmer of progress appears, only to have it ripped away from us once more. So I ask #podiumwatch to go away until we’ve actually resolved this lockout.

Donald Fehr

Yeah, you’re to blame, too. Don’t act all goodie-goodie just because you’re representing the players, who are typically seen through favorable eyes by the public.

Fehr, of course, is the executive director of the NHLPA, and has as much a hand in all this as Bettman and his cronies (Note to self: Bettman and his Cronies, idea for 60s rock n’ roll cover band).

While he represents the players, who, as I mentioned, are often seen as the good guys, he has yet to make any public progress on the negotiations, either. So, in my opinion, he’s just as guilty. And he’s the one who’s supposed to be skilled at labor talks. Fehr was the longtime representative of the MLBPA during their strike in 1995, so he knows how to end these types of things.

The 1995 MLB season ended in what? The cancellation of the World Series?!

I believe it was the esteemed Philip J. Fry from “Futurama” that once said, “We’re boned.”

Ryan Miller

The Sabres goalie isn’t necessarily on my personal list, but he did dish out some serious hating last week.

After the league and players went through their most recent setback mid last week, Miller supposedly had some choice words for longtime Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, or more so the owners in general. Though nothing was confirmed by either party, Jacobs suggested to NHL deputy director Bill Daly that they up-and-leave the talks after Ryan Miller “angrily vented” about the owners’ obvious displeasure in the players’ rejecting of an offer.

The disturbing part about the conversation that was reported is that Jacobs said to Daly, “Let’s leave.” To which any half-minded self-confident league administrator would say, “Dude, chill.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)

Instead, Daly reportedly said, “It’s up to you.”

Are you kidding me? Bill Daly has the authority to slap Jeremy Jacobs across the face, and twice on Sunday, but refuses to dispute him. So I actually applaud Ryan Miller for standing up and telling the owners something they should be hearing from league officials.

As far as Jacobs goes, I think we’ll be seeing more of him in the Report soon.

Jeremy Jacobs

Told you…

Now, when I say Jeremy Jacobs, I really mean all the like-minded owners that are stuck in the 1970s. Don’t get me wrong, hockey was great in the 70s, when many of these guys were just starting out, or, in Ed Snider’s case, just starting to succeed. But the game isn’t played the same way anymore.

Above all else, players’ needs have changed. Now I understand the owners’ argument combating player salary inflation, because it is getting a bit ridiculous. Same goes for setting a maximum number of years for player contracts. Walk up to any old Ilya Kovalchuck or Rick DiPietro and ask them about that.

But to undo every single shred of progress that gets made simply because one tiny thing upsets you is being way too drastic. I talked with some FF staffers about a week ago, and we all agreed the “rollercoaster” effect we’re getting from all this positive and negative news is too stressful. And it’s happening because when progress gets made, people like Jacobs find something they don’t like and pull the plug again.

Why on Earth does it only take eight votes for the commissioner and owners to veto ANYTHING? Who’s running this league, anyway? Oh right…

Gary Bettman

I’m sure no one is surprised the chief has landed at No. 1, especially considering this is the first chance I get to talk about the lockout here at FF. But it’s not so much for his involvement in the lockout this time.

Sure, that has a lot to do with it (Ok, it’s basically the main reason), but it’s not the reason I’m saving the “Bett” for last. In years since the last lockout, I’ve found myself defending Bettman more often than I probably should have. The reason behind that was because of how much he did to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh a few odd years ago.

I realize, after watching everything happen with Phoenix over the past couple years, that the Commish only keeps his franchises where they are because they’re of benefit to him. Perhaps you’ll remember that Jim Balsillie expressed interest in the Penguins when they were going through tough times. Balsillie would make a great owner someday. He’s a hockey nut (and sometimes, just a regular nut), but he’s Bettman’s sworn enemy. So, the commissioner intervened and helped the franchise become stable again.

Were Pens fans appreciative? You betchya. But there’s a disturbing pattern here: it’s not the National Hockey League anymore. It’s become Gary Bettman’s League. Aside from the fact that GBL doesn’t have a good ring to it, my appreciation for Bettman’s efforts in the mid-oughts to salvage the Penguins’ organization has officially worn off.

It must soon be time for a change.

Jim Balsillie for commissioner!

(Please don’t take above comment seriously).

Well that will do it for the re-inaugural Humpday Hater Report, take 2, or 3, or something like that.

Until next time, happy hating!