Meetings between the NHL and NHLPA have gone underground, and rumor has it that they make more progress that way. They must have realized how tiring it is waging a media war for public opinion, and it’s just as well. The fans are tired of it too. Any enthusiasm for the upcoming season (if there is one at all) is quickly dwindling, fans exhausted from the tug of war over their loyalties. It’s difficult to be a passionate hockey fan in the middle of a lockout, and who knows if we’ll even be excited whenever the NHL decides to return.
One of the best parts of the hockey season is the beginning, when we as fans get our hopes up in anticipation for our team’s greatest season yet. We have all the confidence in the world that our team can make it all the way to the Stanley Cup.
This would have been my first time to experience that with the Chicago Blackhawks, and many more new fans are missing that first time opportunity this year. It’s already too late for us. We’ll have to wait until next year when our excitement isn’t shot down over and over and over again. When it’s actually nice that our calendars send us reminders that our teams are playing our rivals and it’s time for a hockey party. (Sometimes, technology hurts.)
New fans have been exposed to the dark business side of the NHL very early in our fandom, and that will be a difficult thing to erase. Longtime fans probably can’t believe this is happening all over again, with memories still lingering from past lockouts and work stoppages.
What a legacy the NHL is creating for itself!
The good news is that both new and longtime fans can join together this June (or whenever) in booing Gary Bettman as he tries to give his pretty little speech before presenting the Stanley Cup in front of thousands of live fans and millions more at home.
Having said all that, I am happier when the NHL and NHLPA decide to meet in secret, ignore public opinion, and actually get work done. Maybe this should have been the strategy from the beginning – do business, leave the kids out of it, and let us know when it’s over and we get hockey again! We aren’t holding our breath over the latest round of meetings. There’s no more excitement or anticipation. Just a casual interest in the latest NHL news. Damage done.
What do you think: How do you feel about a shortened hockey season?
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