The dog-days of summer are coming to a close, Baseball season is ending soon, the night-sky gets darker, earlier seemingly every night. These are all signs that hockey is right around the corner. The excitement that comes and goes with each NHL season is a great feeling, but coming into this season, hockey fans prepared with caution. They knew that the current CBA expired on September 15th. Each day came without an agreement, and when the 15th came around the corner and hit fans in the face, they fell. They fell hard and have yet to get back up, due to the NHL’s reluctance to play fair with the NHLPA. Fans have started petitions, unfollowed the NHL twitter account, protested outside of arenas, to try and miraculously persuade the owners to make the right decision, but none of that matters.
The NHL knows that no matter what, the fans will c0me back. Hockey fans love the game way too much to just forget the sport they have loved for so long. While you may hate the owners for what they have done, it is not the sports fault, and it isn’t entirely the players’ faults except for signing a deal last time there was a lockout that wasn’t in their favor. We, the fans, the most important part of the NHL, are now the doormat of the NHL.
There would be no hockey played all over North America if it weren’t for the fans. The NHL wants more and more money, do you really think they would be handing out contracts worth millions of dollars if we the fans weren’t showing up to games? If you do, you’re sadly mistaken. We are the ones that generate the revenue that they are arguing about. It isn’t fair, and with the cancellation of all November games, it has left an uncomfortable emptiness in me that I simply cannot bare.
Why do I love hockey? I love hockey because it is the most exciting sport, to watch, to play, to talk about with your friends, to go to the games, and most importantly, who can dislike it when a player goes bar-down on a goalie? Or when a player picks the corner just above the netminder’s shoulder to pop the water bottle out of its place? I love the speed of the game, the thrill every second of play brings. I love the odd-man rushes, the desperation saves.
I love the blocked shots, the intensity, and the surprise. Without all of these things that keep me going when I need them to most, how am I going to handle it if there isn’t going to be hockey for a whole year? Don’t tell me that I should just become a fan of the AHL, OHL, or KHL. Do I root for the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ AHL affiliate because I’m a Penguins fan? You’re damn right, but to be quite honest, I don’t care about the AHL.
The skill level is not the same, the players that I have come to love do not play in that league, and it is blasphemous that someone tells me to forget the NHL. Would I like to see the NHL players that are playing in the KHL? Of course I would, but I won’t. They are on the other side of the world, and I do not feel like losing my sleep to watch 2 players that I know play with a bunch of others I don’t, listening to a language I don’t speak.
The worst part about this all, is that I can’t even take a 15 minute car-ride downtown to the arena to watch a game. This whole situation has saddened me tremendously, and the pit in my stomach will only continue to grow over the next year until I have my hockey back.
To the owners: I’ll be back next year. I won’t be happy about it, but I’ll be back.
Follow me on twitter @TheDSHY