It has been ninety-seven days since the lockout began.
Every single day has been a roller coaster of emotions. Fans’ hopes are raised at the promise of negotiations and the speculation that the two sides are “close,” only to hear at the press conference that there’s a ten-thousand foot crevasse between them still.
It feels as though this lockout is worse than the last (and for many, it is).
So many have lost faith. So many have given up completely. So many have vowed to never return, never buy another piece of apparel, never purchase another ticket. And many others are following in their footsteps to some degree.
How do we stay positive? How do we keep believing that, at some point in the future, hockey will return?
On this, the 97th day of the lockout, the “last day of humanity” (suuuuure it is, Mayans), and the day after games were canceled through mid-January, perhaps they key is not looking at the hockey aspects of our life, but what the lack of hockey has brought us. Because hockey has brought us nothing but heartache.
With weekday evenings open and no Hockey Night In Canada eating up our entire Saturday nights until the wee hours of Sunday morning, something has to pass the time. Whether it was something boring like crocheting, some sort of artistic activity, or taking up hockey on your own, there is life outside of the NHL.
Or, if you’re like me, you picked up a forgotten hobby (trying to finish writing my novel (it’s close!)), but long to do so while watching The Hot Stove on the CBC.
-New Forms of Hockey-
Hockey does not have to be the NHL. Many fans already came to this conclusion moths ago. Whether it was the AHL, OHL, your kids’ games, or just going to a nearby ice arena and watching whatever games are played in rink #3 one night, getting a fix is easy.
If you’re like me, you’ve already done at least one of these things. For my brother’s bachelor party, we attended a Plymouth Whalers game in all its wonderful glory.
Or, if you’re even more like me and you live somewhere where it’s cold for a solid four months, you or someone that lives close to you may have an ice rink. And you can play hockey until the wee hours of the morning, much to the disgust of the surrounding neighbors.
-More Quality Time With Loved Ones-
This could be a win or a lose for you. You may not enjoy hanging with your family/loved ones for extended lengths of time. But if you do, having evenings open to do whatever leaves free time in which to reconnect, hang out, or go out for dinner.
Or, if you’re like me, your family members are just as hockey-obsessed as you, and they are just as upset at you are with your current predicament.
-Not Following Every Single Tweet About The Lockout-
If you’ve sworn off the NHL (like me), then you have stopped compulsively checking your Twitter feed every ten minutes on negotiation days. Not doing this causes a lot less stress, and you feel more relaxed overall.
Or, if you’re like me, you check a little less often, but just roll your eyes at every speculating tweet.
-Watching Replayed Hockey Games-
This is bittersweet. Fox Sports Detroit, about once or twice a week, will play an important Detroit Red Wings game from the past fifteen years, whether it’s Game Two against Nashville in 2008, or the Stanley Cup-winning game against Carolina back in 2002. It’s wonderful to see the glory games, the lineups with players you miss and players you hate.
But it also hurts. And it’s a hurt that we tend to suffer through just to catch a glimpse of our sport.
Whether you stumble upon these games broadcast on TV or have a few saved on your DVR (I have Chris Osgood‘s 400th win still, and I will never erase it).
When you focus on the non-NHL aspects of this lockout, it does not look so bleak. But that’s the problem: To find happiness, we have to ignore a central part of ourselves. That’s never a good thing.