HOLLYWOOD, CA --- With the NHL Lockout continuing well into next season, hockey players as young as four years old are likely to find their way from local cable access channels to national television. That's what ESPN executives said after negotiating in secret with local hockey clubs across the country.
Max Kozlowksy, who heads ESPN's New Programs Division, earlier today said that the national sports cable network was not about to deprive millions of North American hockey fans of their favorite television pastime.
"This is not the first time that a sport's youth league has filled in for the pros," he said, referring to the baseball strike a few years ago. "It's also our chance to give hockey a much needed image makeover. In our coverage, we will primarily focus on the 'tykes' league."
Tykes, he explained, are players who range from four to seven years of age. Tykes games are mostly attended my mothers who tend to have a "very controlling effect" on the male spectators.
"These games are likely to set a new example in sportsmanship," Kozlowsky explained.
Karyn MacAleister, President of National Hockey Moms, said the new shift from "brute to cute" will bring families together, steer youngsters away from drugs and violence, and help return the country to Christian family values.
"It's just a wonderful thing to see your little man trying to keep himself steady on the ice," she said smiling.
But not everyone is quite so enthusiastic about ESPN's plans for the next hockey season. Self-described "conservative sports alliances" have expressed concerns about what they call the feminization of traditionally male sports. They fear that an invasion of political correctness will soften up traditionally aggressive sports.
"Now that they let the ladies play high school football, you really have to watch your mouth, unless you want to get sued," said Morris LaCroshe, spokesperson of Mens Sports United.
Individual fans are also uneasy.
Bart Moser, who describes himself as a lifelong hockey drunk, feels uncomfortable drinking 32 oz. cups of beer when grade schoolers are in the ice.
"Where am I going to get drunk now?" He said, shrugging his shoulders. "I guess, I could go to figure skating and whistle at the chicks in the mini skirts."