Wednesday, January 9, 2013
WE RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED HOCKEY
OK, let's get a few things out of the way right now. It took a few days to settle in, in fact I didn't even know they had a deal until the Hockeyrodent called late Sunday night and gave me the info. I was preparing for a lost season as that's how it was beginning to look. Yes, of course I'm happy they cut a deal. Yes, I can't hide the building excitement for a return to the game I love played at it's highest level. But I'm not feeling the love towards the league I have promoted here at Hockeybird for the last two decades (we began back in '97).
So, yes I'm happy but I'm also still quite ticked off by what happened, why it happened and how it was handled by both sides. It's true, I am a solid pro player kinda guy and as I see it the owners did nothing but harm in their attempt to steal back what they legally agreed to in the last lockout. While I'm not sure the NHLPA did everything correctly and yes, they are a small part of the problem this whole mess is very clearly the result of the business side of the game superseding the game itself and compounded by small minded and stupid business decisions.
I have gone on record suggesting that this time, the damage is irreversible. Perhaps that's a bit strong but it's a solid point. Many fans will return as if nothing happened and I can't complain about that as I did the same back in '04. There are some who are so fed up with the league that they've moved on, never to return as a rabid fan. Then there are many like myself who are so passionate about the game that we could never really cut it out of our lives and yet because of that passion can't get past how poorly we have been treated.
Look, my family received a 56 inch Samsung about two weeks before Christmas. I immediately tuned to the NHL network as I was dying to see and feel the game I love on such a large, high quality screen. I relived the '04 cup game which I had attended and I also relived the '94 season which brought back so many great memories. I then focused my attention on the World Junior championships that were held in Russia. Games were broadcast live at 4:30 am and I set the alarm, woke up and watched the US team as it made it's run to the Gold Medal. I was in hockey heaven. I was reminded of just how much this game means to me. I have days where I can't walk because of my dedication to this sport I love so much. However, with each painful step I am reminded of my time playing so between grimaces I smile with the pride that four Championship seasons bring.
The fact is, I can't lie and say I won't watch. I can't lie and not tell you that this year more than most, I believe my team, the NY Rangers will win the Stanley Cup. The game is part of me, it in part defines who I am as a person. I was extremely proud (and blessed) to say, "I am a Hockey Player". But that doesn't change the way I feel about this lockout. So I will refrain from attending games this season and possibly next. I will not buy NHL stuff for quite some time.
The casual fan hasn't been affected by this lockout like we have been. We took it personally and it did cause pain and suffering. I'm not telling you or others how to react to the return of our beloved game, I am only telling you how I feel. But I know I'm not alone. There are many just like me who love and respect this game with all our being and we have been disrespected and cannot just "take it" as we have in the past.
So, welcome back. I hope 2013 is a blessed year for you and your family.....and your favorite hockey team. Check in from time to time as I have always had a hard time keeping my mouth shut and I'm sure I'll have something to say about games once they begin on Saturday the 19th.