The recent lockout has finally pushed the National Hockey League from its precarious status as North America’s fourth largest sport down to exhibition-grade. Starting with this shortened 2013 season, full hockey games will be replaced by 20-minute scrimmages, and will occur as the stars of the NBA towel-off during halftime. This was a centerpiece added to the new CBA by federal mediators.

“Most owners like the deal because stadiums will already be full. Players like it because they get paid to do one-third of the work,” said mediator Ron Carter. “And Commissioner Bettman is ecstatic because it abolishes all Canadian teams except for one.”

This new arrangement is the only way both sides saw fitting in all the games, while still drawing fans. As a bonus, the only people who may suffer are the few dozen hardcore hockey fans still left on the continent.

The game itself will be tweaked to more closely resemble traditional halftime fare. Instead of crossing a blue line, players must now leap from trampolines in order to enter the offensive zone. There will also be a choreographed dance following each goal, complete with t-shirt and confetti cannons.

“I thought, at first, it was all pretty embarrassing,” said Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, stepping into a gorilla costume. “But I’m happy to still have a job. Honestly, NBA mascot may be a lateral move at this point.”

Bandwagon Dan