I was in Midtown Manhattan yesterday and briefly sought refuge from the cold on 6th Avenue in the NHL store and its adjoining Starbucks coffee shop. There were plenty of hockey fans checking out the NHL merchandise, from replica sweaters and goalie masks to pucks and stocking caps. People were posing with a replica of the Stanley Cup.
Even as the labor impasse drones on, I took it as a good sign for hockey that so many fans were streaming into the store to check out the merchandise. It may be the only direct connection to NHL hockey they have this season that’s looking more like a non-season. A couple of sports network satellite trucks were parked in front of the NHL store, evidently waiting to go live with another “no developments” story on the negotiations, which are expected to resume today.
This was my first trip to Midtown in several years and my first visit to the NHL store. I was thinking that instead of having a Starbucks connected with the hockey shop there should be a Tim Horton’s, the Canadian chain with strong ties to north-of-the-border hockey teams.
To my surprise and delight, there now are Tim Horton’s in New York City. I spotted one in Penn Station and another somewhere in Midtown, each having a counter in multi-brand convenience marts. It’s not live hockey, but it’s a step in the right direction.