NHL Lockout Looming: How I’ll Spend My Time Instead

An NHL lockout seems inevitable with Gary Bettman demanding a new CBA agreement be reached in a little over a month. If a lockout costs us the 2012-13 season, I’ll never watch hockey again.

The NHL needed the lockout in 2004-05. That’s what they told us and we soaked it in. The game got faster, more exciting, and grew to new audiences as a direct result of the changes that came after the lost season. Organizationally, the league was better for it, right? We needed to lose a full season to restructure a dying league. Someone needs to explain to me how less than ten years later the threat of another NHL lockout is looming, and Gary Bettman seems okay with it.

Is the NHL in so desperate a state that we can’t operate tentatively under the old agreement for a season while negotiations move forward? Does the NHL care so little about it’s fans that they don’t mind losing another season as a leverage tactic against the players? Screw this. I’m against the idea of an NHL lockout. I’m against the idea of CBA reform specifically to protect the owners from themselves. I’m tired of the nonsense — the business of professional sports overriding an obligation to the fans. If there’s another NHL lockout, I’m never coming back to hockey. Here’s how I’ll spend my time instead:

1. I’ll watch more football. The NFL is stable. It’s not like impending lawsuits threaten the stability of the league, or rule changes have started to ruin the game. Football will be here forever — just as we always knew it to be, and our parents knew it to be — and their parents before them. From August through February, I’ll simply watch NFL Network reruns all week if there’s an NHL lockout.

2. I’ll take up bowling. I once bowled a 187 on a double date. Girls love bowling shoes — especially the neon blue and orange ones of my town’s bowling alley. I used to watch hockey on weeknights — now I’ll bowl under the exciting glow of laser lights and bask in the glory of free bowling games on trivia night.

3. I’ll work on that novel I’ve been working on. Without hockey writing to take up my time and provide an outlet for my creative urges, I’ll finally get around to that novel I’ve been working on. A nice little story I’ve been working on for about three years now. A compelling protagonist… some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends… At the end the main character is richer for the experience? Everyone learns the hero’s journey isn’t always a happy one… You should look forward to reading it.

4. I’ll sleep. In order to pick on teams like the Vancouver Canucks, this east coast hockey observer stays up well past midnight every night streaming the late games. With hockey out of my life, I’ll have time to sleep. We won’t have to go through an entire season to watch the Vancouver Canucks not win the Stanley Cup again and I’ll be energized each day. I might even get a Tempurpedic mattress to help adjust to my earlier bedtime. Ah, memory foam.

5. Free Movie Tuesday. No longer will I be forced to choose between hockey and a weekly trip to the movie theater. As an Optimum Rewards member, I can enjoy two free tickets to any Tuesday showing at a Clearview Cinema. Oh, the magic of the movies.

6. I’ll eat better. When I think of the price of going to a New Jersey Devils game and multiply it by the number of trips I make to Newark each season, it’s at least one steak dinner for every week of the year. It costs 15 dollars in gas to get to the arena, 35 to park because leaving my new car on the streets of Newark is no longer an option (don’t let Cory Booker fool you), 20 dollars to sit in the upper level (over 100 to sit downstairs), 10 bucks for a Premio (sweet not spicy), 10 more for a beer, and if I’m bringing a lady friend you can double that.

7. I’ll wear my Zach Parise jersey again. If the 2012-13 season never happens, it allows me to pretend that Zach Parise is still a Devil. If he never plays a game for the Minnesota Wild, he never left the Devils, and thus my jersey survives another year before being used solely for role play with hockey fan girlfriends. A girl once chose sex with me over an intimate night with David Steckel — true story.

I really hope we can avoid an NHL lockout, but if not I don’t see how I can keep watching hockey. The lack of loyalty to the fans is sickening. Sports are a business, sure, but it’s a business I’m tired of pouring more and more money into. A perfectly effective CBA agreement is in effect until Gary Bettman’s unreasonable negotiation deadline, and if the season is lost this fan will be lost as well.

Mark Donatiello
Follow me on Twitter:  @FasterHockey ...read more

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