Well I’m seemingly back from the grave. Last week’s flu bug got me good. And although I’m still feeling the effects, I’m back to normal enough to crank out this week’s Humpday Hater Report.

....Oh yeah…the lockout’s over. So there’s that. I’m sure it will come up eventually…

Let’s begin, shall we?

The Stars hate the Cowboys

This one went down on twitter, so if the Dallas Cowboys haven’t taken it down, I suggest you look it up.

The Dallas Cowboys sent a tweet yesterday saying, “Similarly in the category of nobody-cares…the NHL is back!”

To which the Dallas Stars replied, attaching a photo of Mike Modano lifting the Stanley Cup, “At least our #9 got the job done…”

BAM!

The Cowboys later apologized via twitter. Why an official account for a professional organization would feel the need to do something like that in the first place is beyond me. I’d expect something like that from the NBA, but not the NFL.

Anyway, I’m not going to spend much more time on it as the Stars’ response is too good to top.

Beards

Normally, beards are OK with me. But in hockey, there should only be one time to grow a beard: the playoffs. It is my understanding that certain players are showing up to camps with lockout beards.

There’s never a wrong time for a good beard. I’m even actually still sporting my flu beard from last week. But not in hockey. In hockey, beards are a special, sacred icon saved for that cherished time of year when the playoffs come around.

Besides, hockey players should know better. Non-bearded men growing beards before the playoffs bring bad luck.

The lockout’s over. Shave ‘em, boys.

Hatin’ in the Flood City

There are many hockey fans in the city of Johnstown doing Yosemite Sam-esque mumble rants. A select group of NHLers, mostly Penguins, were scheduled to play a charity game tonight alongside the NAHL Johnstown Tomahawks at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

Professionals on the roster included James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy, Marc-Andre Fleury, even Jordan Staal, just to name a few.

Notice I used the word “included.” As you no doubt have figured out by now (studies show that readers of my column are far more intelligent, trusting, and handsome than non-readers), the game is no more.

The lockout just HAD to end, didn’t it?!

Eight years

The new CBA is a 10-year deal. So someone please tell me why either side can opt out after eight? Doesn’t that seem counter-productive? Can’t you even give us 10 guaranteed years of lockout-free hockey?

Look, I don’t want to sound ungrateful here. But you know that as long as the clown-in-chief is still running things in eight years, the league is going to opt out of this deal. Some of you are probably saying “no, no, that won’t happen again that soon.” We said that in 2005 as well, and look where we just came from.

Maybe they’ll all prove me wrong. Maybe the NHL and NHLPA will have evolved by then and stopped clawing at each others’ throats. But I don’t believe that for a second. And deep down, neither do you.

Hatin’ them long contracts

Aside from the above rant, I genuinely like the other financial restructures of this agreement. Certainly not the least of which is the limit on player contract length. The contracts like the ones that were signed by Rick DiPietro (please hold laughter) were making a mockery of the salary cap system.

In case you need a refresher: player contracts can now be no longer than seven years, unless a team is resigning its own player, in which case the limit is eight.

I’ll be honest, I’ve tried to find something about that rule that I don’t like and it’s pretty difficult. I do wish something could be done with the contracts already signed (as I’m sure the Islanders do, too), but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.

Maybe in 2027, when everyone else is free to retire, the NHL will force 44-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk to continue playing until his contract is up. That would be good punishment for both Kovalchuk and the Devils for signing that contract.

(And yes I know Sid’s deal is above that limit, too. I didn’t like it when his deal happened, either. No player should be able to cheat the system).

Me

Yes even I am not above the law of the land. It occurred to me Sunday morning that I came back to Faceoff-Factor in a lockout year. Granted, not necessarily my fault. But after I was forced to take last week off due to the flu bug, a deal got done.

Don’t come near me, guys. I just may be the one thing deciding whether or not we play hockey.

At least I can’t do any more damage for another eight years.

Israel Gutierrez

For those wondering, Gutierrez is a sports columnist for the Miami Herald and frequent contributor to ESPN’s The Sports Writers.
In a segment the show put together Sunday morning after the NHL lockout ended, Gutierrez went on to hang the league, saying it’s dropped to maybe the sixth or seventh most popular sport in America. Granted, he’s used to writing in Miami. (Nothing says hockey like Miami). But he went on to say sports like soccer and even cricket should be more popular.

(Sigh)

Another county of the ESPN agenda heard from. I failed to mention that there were four NBA analysts talking about this subject during this minute (maybe minute-and-a-half) segment. I’m surprised they didn’t bring on Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless to talk about how Tim Tebow would be good for the NHL.

Israel, I know you’re an avid reader, so this is for you. Pay attention now. I know you’re used to covering what people tell me is “basketball” in the NBA down there in Miami. But in the NHL, teams don’t buy championships. It has a thing called a salary cap that keeps teams from doing that (we just got a shiny new $64.3 million cap for next year).

Stick to basketball, and tell your network to do the same.

Gary Bettman

I don’t care if you helped end the lockout or not, you’re still on the list.

This time, you’re on as a recap.

I’ve been reading the most shocking statistic lately now that the lockout is over. Under Gary Bettman’s tenure as NHL commissioner, the league has seen 10 percent of its games cancelled. That, of course, takes into account three different lockouts, one a full season.

Just let that soak in…go ahead…I’ll give you a few minutes.

It amazes me season after season that this man is still running this league.

Well that does it for this week’s Humpday Hater Report. Just think, by this time next week, we’ll be days away from hockey! Until then, happy hating!