BOSTON (CBS) — With the players and owners meeting for two straight days in a New York City hotel, with reporters standing by the entire time trying to learn what’s being discussed, and with hockey fans around the continent sick and tired of being without the NHL for two full months, you can forgive everyone if they’re getting a little stir-crazy.
Enter the famed “NHL podium.”
The podium is a simple stand with an NHL logo on the front and a microphone on top. It is in the hotel for when Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, Donald or Steve Fehr or anyone else has to address the media. There’s really nothing special about the podium, but late Wednesday night, it became the star of the lockout.
Those two days of meetings proved to be productive, and the two sides have made more progress in the past 48 hours than they had in the past three months. The words “cautious optimism” began spreading like wildfire, with the hope that perhaps Bettman would address the media in the wee hours of the morning to announce the end to the dreaded lockout.
Alas, workers entered the room Wednesday night and took down the podium, killing any hope that a major announcement would take place. Within an hour later, though, workers were putting the podium back on the stage, and what ensued was an instant Internet phenomenon.
A Twitter account named @NHLPodium was created instantly, and it gained more than 10,000 followers in the span of a few hours (it’s closing in on 12,000 followers at the time of this writing). The hashtag #PodiumWatch spread like wildfire, and suddenly “the podium” became the No. 1 topic of the night.
“Hockey fans’ current drug of choice: Podium. Makes one hallucinate that there will be an end-of-lockout announcement within minutes,” tweeted NESN’s play-by-play man Jack Edwards.
“Hey, anyone remember that Onion story about a podium becoming more popular than the NHL? I can’t seem to find it,” Jesse Spector of The Sporting News tweeted Thursday morning.
A Twitter photo of Sidney Crosby victoriously raising the podium above his head circulated, a competing account named @NHL_Lectern tried to claim its own fame and taunt the podium, and a mock “History Will Be Made” commercial sprung up on YouTube.
It was a fun diversion, but hockey fans are hoping for a bit more substantive of a celebration on Thursday.