AT RANDOM: Game on

Columnist Graeme Corbett touches on farming, the lack of cable TV and hockey

I seem to be spending more of my spare time researching tractors and chicken coop designs and less time keeping up with the outside world these days.

I’m much more interested in learning what attachments I can hook up to a three-point PTO (power takeoff) hitch than I am about where Luongo will be traded, or about what Lance Armstrong ‘fessed up to in his awkward interview with Oprah (what did it change after all? He’s still arrogant and rich, and won’t face any repercussions even though he admitted to being a fraud).

Part of my current mind-set comes from my desire/necessity to learn how to farm, part of it is a lack of cable television, and the other part is just plain ‘ol spite.

While most of the nation gleefully welcomed back the NHL last weekend after a 113-day lockout, I just couldn’t get my game face on. The Habs-Leafs game was playing on HNIC at my in-laws last Saturday, but aside from not being a fan of either team, I tuned it out because I want the players and owners to feel a little blowback after their greedy power struggle.

The feeling I have over the lockout is sadly similar to the one I get when I see gas prices skyrocket on the Friday before a long weekend. It just isn’t necessary.

Not watching games isn’t really taking a stand because I don’t have cable, so my one form of activism has been to back out of our annual office pool. Not to brag, but I won both the office pool and the Sun-FM playoff pool last year, so there is potentially a little sacrifice involved.

There are scores of Facebook groups lobbying for an NHL boycott. The most popular one – the  Just Drop It campaign – had nearly 22,000 ‘likes,’ plus more followers across other social media platforms.

After that, however, the numbers drop faster than Scott Gomez’s stats did when he joined Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge (I actually hope he lights it up with the Sharks…but I’m not supposed to be following all that nonsense, right?). In other words, Gary Bettman isn’t exactly quaking in his neatly pressed power suit.

Launched on Dec. 8, Just Drop It asked fans to pledge that for every game the NHL/NHLPA took from them after Dec. 21, they would boycott the league for the equivalent number of games after the lockout ends. So instead of a season-long shunning – which would be pretty much impossible – the campaign was meant to be more of a reminder for owners that fans don’t like to be taken for granted.

Only time will tell if those who took the hockey hiatus oath stick with the bargain, and, even if they do, whether it will have any affect on the league.

My mini-grudge with the NHL won’t last forever. It can’t. I like the game too much. I’ll probably come crawling back if the Canucks make the playoffs.

Until that time, I will happily track the progress of the Vernon Vipers to see if they can squeak into the playoffs. Despite enduring a horrendous first half, there seems to be a genuine belief among the players they can make the dance.

I guess if there is one positive to this lockout fiasco, it has reaffirmed that Canadians are nuts about hockey.

Not really sure we needed the reminder, but how many fan bases would tolerate this kind of treatment – for the record, this is the fourth lockout/strike in 20 years – and still remain loyal?