You Have a Choice — Final Thoughts on Eve of NHL Lockout

This sucks. It’s about all I can manage to say about the impending NHL lockout.

I haven’t studied every article. There have been too many. I haven’t read every tweet. They have been too annoying. I haven’t watched every protest video. They’ve been too pointless. I haven’t answered every question. I don’t have any answers. I haven’t taken a side. Nobody wins.

There’s no fight left. I don’t have the energy and neither do you. This is happening and now it’s time to accept it. You don’t have to like it, but this is the reality of major professional sports.

It is a big business and it is a difficult business. It is a business in which making money is not a given, but spending a lot is. The highly complicated practice of building a team and providing entertainment for the public is not all glitz and glamour. It is hard work and it requires tough decisions to be made.

It’s easy to side with the players. It’s much harder to side with the owners. But is there really a side worth taking anymore? Millionaires vs. Billionaires, right? The Haves vs. the Have Mores. What an enviable war this must be. Then there’s us, the Have Nothings.

Both sides have made very valid, very fair points during these negotiations, but there has been a maddening lack of a middle ground. There has to be a compromise somewhere. Anywhere. A stalemate that has no end in sight is more than a little worrisome.

We know the game will come back. Some fans might stay away, most will not. There’s no shame in returning. We love the game of hockey and we want to see it played at the highest level.

It’s OK to be pissed off, though. This is a quite helpless night in the hockey world right now. Without a voice in the proceedings, this is up to people who have allowed our faith in them to dwindle.

But what are you to do? You like hockey right? You like the NHL? So when the NHL ends yet another lockout that will do more harm than good, more than likely, in the short term, with probably little benefit in the long term, we’ll still go back. Every lockout in years past and years future is but a blip on the radar of your hockey fandom. A scar to be sure, but the kind that only keeps you coming back for more, knowing full well you might get scarred again.

Scars fade over time, but there are ways to numb the pain right now.

Use your time wisely during these dreadful NHL-less months. Experience the game in other ways. Maybe it’s at your local rink or in a minor league or college stadium. Maybe you finally get to that junior game you’ve been meaning to get to. Perhaps the local high school has a game on Friday night. Maybe it’s time you laced ’em up yourself.

There are going to be voids that EA Sports can’t fill. Be sure to get out and enjoy the game as you always do, except this time you won’t be shedding Benjamin Franklins from your wallet.

This is a great game, a game that is growing in the United States, providing you with numerous opportunities to rediscover it in ways you might even end up enjoying more than the NHL (The ongoing Living with the Lockout series on USofH might be a helpful guide).

You don’t have a say in how this goes. You do have a choice.

Sulk through the NHL Lockout if you like, or stay in the game in any way available to you. Are you an NHL fan or are you a Hockey fan? Here’s your chance to find out.

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About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
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3 Responses to You Have a Choice — Final Thoughts on Eve of NHL Lockout

  1. Carl K says:

    There is hockey out there besides the NHL. Re-discover college hockey, support the local kids leagues, there are all sorts of options for hockey (well at least in states where hockey is actually played on a regular basis).

    Nobody has forced these owners to enter into the kinds of contracts they now say are killing them. Case in point, the Wild just signed two players for what essentially amounts to $100 million dollars each, but somehow that’s the players fault. This happens all over the NHL, franchises entering into contracts they know they can’t sustain in the long term, but they do it because they know they will get to a contract negotiation like this, they will have yet another lock out, during which they will try to convince the world that they have been woefully wronged and are about to go out of business. In the end they get a big chunk of those over the top contracts undone.

    If the NHL lockout happens, which certainly seems inevitable, I will never watch another NHL game let alone attend one. I’ll follow some of the local college teams or maybe even watch a few of the local high school teams where they play for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment of playing.

    If the NHL and that clown they call a commissioner want to go down in flames another lockout is exactly the way to accomplish it.

  2. Brandon Beylo says:

    Great piece man. I totally agree with you, in fact I wrote a post about why Bettman is the worst commissioner in sports today at koppettstown.wordpress.com. I will def. give your site a follow and I believe the NHL needs more recognition especially during the lockout.

  3. The first thing we did Sunday morning was cancel the Center Ice Package. I know it’s not much, but I am hopeful that other fans do the same and just maybe these guys get the message

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