There is finally a deal between the National Hockey League and its players to get back on the ice and play a 48-game season. And before you start saying, “Isn’t this an entertainment blog? Why are you talking about sports?” I have some news for you.

Hockey (and all sports, not just “sports entertainment”) is entertainment. I love hockey. Before I moved here from South Dakota, one of the most entertaining ways to spend a night was to go to a CHL Rapid City Rush game and scream my lungs out. My wife even likes hockey now. She misses it enough that she made a Spotify playlist called “hockey songs” that includes tunes played in the arena such as “I Got a Feeling” by the Black-Eyed Peas and the classic “Me Like Hockey” by Canadian band the Arrogant Worms.

The NHL season should have started back in late October and it has taken officials on both sides until now to get a deal worked out. It hasn’t affected us here as much as it has in Canada. If Seattle gets an NHL team for their new basketball stadium, that could change. Canadians, though, they take their hockey seriously. Serious enough to play the game when the game isn’t going.

Sports writers at the Montreal Gazette decided to play all the games on the schedule for the Montreal Canadiens team on the EA Sports “NHL ‘13” video game and report the results as if the game had really happened. Don’t worry, everyone is in on the joke.

For example, on Saturday, Jan. 5, Montreal would have played archrival the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens took the match in a shootout.

“(Andrei) Markov’s heroics weren’t confined to the shootout. He scored a power-play goal at 13:53 of the second period to pull the Canadiens even at 2-2,” according to the story written by Pat Hickey of the Gazette.

That’s part of the brilliance of what they are doing. The articles are written like their real. The only give away that these aren’t real games is a note at the top of every piece: “Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports ‘NHL ’13’ to produce The Season That Isn’t.”

The question is, now will theses guys have to stop playing games and get back to work when the season finally gets under way? First of all, I think these guys DID work really hard to provide interesting content for their readers and fill what would have been a gaping hole in their section. It’s a unique solution to a problem.

Of course, no one else can do this now, because they’d just be a copycat.

The deal to end the 113-day lockout still needs to be ratified, so I can’t say when the real season will start. What I can tell you is that a couple journalists in Montreal made the best of it.

To look back at the Montreal “Gazette’s” coverage of the Montreal Canadiens “fantasy season”, click here.

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• Backstage Pass is a new blog on covering pop culture from Hollywood to your backyard. T.J. Tranchell, a freelance journalist and Herald-Republic customer service clerk, can be reached at You can visit his horror-themed blog at