So here we are, day 70-something of the 2012 NHL lockout. There are so many different ways that we as fans are dealing with our anger/apathy right now. Some are distraught over the lockout, and don’t know how to function without constant updates on how the negotiations are (or are not) going. Some are getting their fix through other levels of hockey. Some are over the lockout, over the NHL, and over hockey. And some rise and fall through each level.
I’m a rise/faller. It depends on the day really. I have certainly found myself interested in other levels of hockey, and following the Houston Aeros has been a really great upside to this cluster-mess of lockout days. But if I’m truly honest with myself, the only reason I’m excited about watching this AHL team is because I am following a lot of guys who are going to be playing on the big club team someday. I’m excited to watch them develop into the guys we depend on, not because I like watching AHL hockey.
I find myself falling to the "over it" campaign after negotiations fall apart. Both sides try to spin the story so they look like guy getting screwed, and the other guy looks like a massive jerk. But pulling out that honesty word again, both sides are the jerks. The only people that are getting screwed here are the fans, and the people who depend on NHL games for income (the bars, restaurants, sports clothing stores). Every time I hear someone from the NHL or NHLPA spew the words "Greatest fans in the world" I have to fight the urge to kick everything cute in a hundred mile radius. We may not be making millions of dollars, but we aren’t stupid.
The worst part about this lockout is knowing that as much as it makes my blood boil, I will be back. I love hockey, and I love professional hockey. I love the smell of the arena, I love the large crowds, I love my team. I’ve tried to follow the European leagues and the KHL, and it’s not the same. The NHL has the best players in the world, and once you’ve had a taste of the best you can never really go back. Hockey runs through my blood, and I’ll never be able to give it up. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to complain about it. Even if it makes me feel bi-polar for being angry about something I want so badly.
So, where do I, as Wild fan go from here? There are three editors here who literally can’t find anything to write about. I’m the lowly newbie writer who is so damn excited that people are actually reading what I’m writing that I’m willing write about advanced stats (ok, that’s a lie…but you get the picture). I’ve gone from the high of Parise/Suter day, to the depression of accepting that I'm not going to see them in Wild sweaters this year. Sure, I can watch the baby Wild, but even the official AHL feeds are so horrible that I can’t make out the jersey numbers. Maybe I can watch some of the European leagues, or the KHL teams instead. Oh wait, they play at around 3 in the morning. I love you Patrick Kane, but my sleep is way more important than watching you play with advertisements all over your body (although I’m tempted to find out if you and Seguin have obtained endorsements for antibiotics).
I just don’t care about either side anymore. I don’t care how the owners are losing money, or how the players are getting screwed. I care about the fact that they are making my favorite pastime into a mockery. There are a lot of people who would have been somewhat interested in attending a Wild game this year. I had a group of people from my work ready to make a group outing to a game this fall. They knew nothing about hockey but were excited to learn about how it was played and catch a live game with some great company. After asking me how the lockout was going for the third or fourth time in October, not a single one of them was interested in attending anymore. They’ve found other things to do that don’t involve the drama of people crying over large amounts of money. I’m back to being depressed about the lack of hockey talk I can get in at work again. If I have to listen to my football buddies ask me one more time how the hockey season is fairing, I swear I’m going to combust in a fit of rage Hulk style. You will not like me when I’m angry NHL/NHLPA. Give me my damn hockey back.