NHL fans may have gotten desperate during the lockout, but not as desperate as Ernest Shackleton's men.
The wait is over. After a summer stalemate and 113-day lockout, the NHL returns to action this weekend. No more press conferences with aloof executives to endure. No more reactions from players shrugging at the cameras in their summer wear.
We'll soon learn whether another waiting game—the NHL's third lockout in less than 20 years—has caused permanent damage to the sport. The talented forward for the New York Rangers, Brian Boyle, recently acknowledged the possibility in an interview with the New York Times. "We [the players] were dying to play—those were dark days," he said. "It was awful the way it happened. We're not insensitive to that. Now it's a huge relief; we're ready to play. Hopefully, we can ease some of the pain from what was lost."
These descriptions—dark days, time lost, easing pain—resonated with me, as I'd spent the lockout period reading about truly harrowing icebound waiting games. My starting point was the South Polar Times, a handmade newspaper published by Antarctic explorers more than a century ago as a way to boost morale and stave off boredom during long stretches on the ice. In addition to putting on plays, huddling around the gramophone, dressing up as women—anything to keep spirits up—the shipmates collaborated on this typewritten and beautifully illustrated paper, complete with weather reports, humor pieces, and birth notices of sledge dog puppies. The articles were read aloud and the issue was then circulated throughout the cabin, one reader at a time. Last year, the Folio Society released a box set compiling each issue of the SPT, which published during multiple expeditions between 1902 and 1913.