Gentlemen, as the new commissioner of the National Hockey League, I’m going to do what my predecessors never had the guts to do: fix the penalty box.
Let’s talk box. I want to see a player stuck in there for weeks. Make it all one-way mirrors. We can see in, but he can only see his lonely, infinite reflection. And the mirrors are warped, so he looks fat.
The best part of sports is solitude. As players talk to themselves in the mirrors, we learn something about ourselves. In a way, we’re all in our own penalty box. When the crowd realizes this, they’ll be having so much fun.
But hockey’s still a team sport. Let’s put six guys in there to see if they can cooperate. What if they only have enough Gatorade for five of them? Who gets the Gatorade? It wouldn’t take long before they have chieftains and infighting.
We could put a button in the penalty box and tell them to press it every hour or they’ll die. Soon maybe they’ll worship the button as a god. Then we learn the button doesn’t do anything. But it’s never been about the button. It’s been about friends. The box taught us that.
Soon the box is all they know. Only legends remain of the time before the great four walls, when their world was infinite and icy. Children are told to watch out for the man in the black and white stripes, and his shrill whistle-call. And the art, oh, the art. Cave paintings of the ancients hunting the mighty Zamboni. Epic poems about Budweiser, keeper of the good times.
Then their penalty time is up and they skate back onto the ice. Only they’re a little stronger, a little happier, and a lot more compelling. The crowd goes wild.