(I posted this in my personal blog, but decided to post it here too because a lot of it has to do with things that have happened on this blog. I hope people laugh a bit while reading it, a lot of great memories came back to me while writing it!)
If you haven’t heard (and honestly if you’re here you probably know me and have defiantly heard since I’ve been whining about it constantly), the NHL has cancelled all of the games until the end of November. It appears that the Winter Classic will be canceled by the end of this week, which will most likely lead to a cancellation of the entire season shortly afterwards. The last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions; from thinking about the potential of a lockout, to realizing that it was probably going to happen, it happening, thinking the NHL and the NHLPA were going to make a deal, and then having both parties walk away. It has made me realize what I really miss about the NHL and hockey season.
I miss the smell of the arena. A mix of sweat, beer, food and ice in any other combination may be gross, but this is the smell of hard work, dedication, good memories (watching my niece yell “LET’S PLAY HOCK-KEY!), bad memories(Tom Gilbert playing 34 minutes in a game), and the greatest sport played. I miss getting to the arena over an hour early because I was so damn excited to watch the game. I miss hearing Calvin Harris singing “Feel So Close” and not being able to shake the smile off my face because it meant the pre-game warm-up had started. I’d like to point out that I know the words to all of the warm-up songs and cannot hear them without thinking of hockey (Whoever has Kanye West=hockey on their bingo card wins). I miss hearing the cheers of all the fans when Mikko Koivu and Cal Clutterbuck took the ice, and the roar of the crowd through the announcement of the starting lineup. I really miss hearing “Let’s play hockey”. And these are just the things I miss before the puck drops.
I miss watching the other team take one look at our little engine that could (Jared Spurgeon) and think they would just be able to steam roll him. He may not look like much as a 5’9, 185lb defense player, but watching him absolutely own guys last season was one of my favorite memories. I miss watching Cal chipping at every player on the ice, his own teammates included. I miss watching Matt Kassian show other teams that messing with our guys will not be happening on his watch. I miss watching Mikko zipping around the ice like he owns the whole damn thing. I miss the stupid refs getting in the way of plays and either getting nailed by a player or a puck, and the cheers that rip through the arena when it happens. I honestly miss worrying about whether Backstrom is going to have an off-night or if he’s going to hold on and win the game. I miss the State of Hockey song. Hearing the entire arena sing about their mothers being a referee makes me incredibly proud to reside in the state of Minnesota, where we love hockey almost as much as beer.
I miss a lot outside of the games too. I miss grabbing a quick bite to eat at Cossetta’s or McGovern’s before the game and heading to Tom Reid’s after the game for a beer. I miss the Russo-and-coffee sightings, and his articles that make you excited to watch the games. I miss talking hockey every day over at Hockey Wilderness (Best hockey site ever btw). I miss the crazy long game day posts from last season, because even when we were playing horribly there were a lot of dedicated fans from around the world (even Ireland and China!) who were there celebrating every goal and complaining about every bad move our defense made (and let’s be honest, there were a lot). I miss the Heaters gonna heat image that got posted every time Heatly scored. I really miss the sense of community that we had with other team fan pages. I miss chirping at the Oilers fan page, because honestly who likes the Oilers? I’m (mostly) kidding about that.
I miss everyone being excited about hockey. Fans are just depressed these days, and who can blame us? It doesn’t matter if you side with the players, the owners, or no one. The only people who are really hurting in this lockout are fans. The game that we love no longer brings light and joy to our lives; it brings arguments over which side is right, who deserves more from the money pie, and what Hockey Related Revenue is. It has become worse than politics in American and the game I love is better than this. We are no longer discussing how hilarious it is that Kyle Brodziak looks like he is skating drunk because he has to wear Dany Heatly’s ¾ length face shield to protect his face from being cut by a skate (again), we are discussing the level of apathy and/or anger we’ve reached recently. So honestly, what is the worst part about this lockout? It is the fact that instead of joy, hockey now brings me a game ending headache of the non-concussion kind.