Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The End of Fidel and the Consequences for Hockey

Well, there you go: no more El Presidente. The Blueland Chronicle's man in Havana is off this week (what a terrible irony!) so I'm afraid you'll have to direct your attention to less reputable news sources. The New York Times' take is here, the Guardian's is here.

The implications are huge, of course. For one, we might actually get a chance to GO to Cuba now, and I've always wanted to see the place. Secondly (though probably more importantly) the citizens of Cuba might finally be granted something in the way of individual freedoms and political rights. Thirdly, poor Hugo Chavez is now without an amigo among heads of state in this hemisphere, and his face will come to resemble a sad fat kid's even more now.

But since this is a hockey blog of some kind, we should take a moment to consider what the consequences of Castro's resignation might be for hockey. You see, Cuba used to be a quasi-colony of the United States; it was never an official territory like Puerto Rico, but everyone knows that from the time of the Spanish-American War in 1898 to the Revolution of the 1950s Cuba was an elegant Caribbean Las Vegas. After the US liberated Cuba from Spanish rule, the country was formally independent but heavily enmeshed with US interests and strategies, and it provided a helpful outpost for the US military during both world wars.

Castro's revolution and the American embargo that followed abolished all of that, and the people of Cuba are living with the consequences today. Since Castro has stepped down and relinquished power permanently, the possibility of an end to the embargo and more commercial and cultural engagement with the benighted island seems all of a sudden quite likely. Barack Obama is the first of the Presidential candidates to offer a reaction, and it looks like he's advocating just that. Given all these new conditions, I think it's only fitting that we finish that McKinley and Roosevelt started in 1898 and 1) annex the place and 2) lobby the NHL to expand itself to the Caribbean.

I'm not kidding. Imagine what a test of the NHL Commissioner's mettle it would be, what a bold experiment, what a great advertisement for hockey around the world! They thought it was a challenge to establish hockey teams in non-traditional markets like L.A. and Phoenix and Dallas and Atlanta; imagine what a noble struggle relocating the Hurricanes to Havana will be! Ice hockey in Cuba, I can see it now...

Do any of you share my vision?

No comments: