To the league I have loved since I was in the single digits…to the team whose emblem I have etched on my ribs….to the players I have enjoyed watching the past few years as we continue this “team in transition” phase…
Good morning. Its been a while since we’ve talked, but that happens every few months. Each year, the playoffs end, the summer settles in and we adjust. We find new hobbies. We do warm weather things like sitting on boats and staring at scantily clad members of the opposite sex. It’s a wondrous time and one that fills an important role each year. Hockey season, for those of us devoted, is a rather “involved” few months and the period of detachment, of relaxing, of not thinking about hockey is an important one. It allows us to fully devote ourselves to the game when the action fires back up.
As fans, we spend months scrambling home from jobs to watch games, agonizing over reviewed non-goals and trying to read the tea leaves on our team’s trajectory.
Is it a random win or the beginning of a successful home stand?
Is it a crippling injury or an opportunity for one of our youngsters to step into a bigger role?
Are we destined for a long “spring season” or headed for a first round exit?
I’ve spent more time than you can imagine wrestling with questions like these…wrenching over the re-acquisition of players I was happy to see leave Detroit years ago, crying into my award-winning PBR about franchise guys going to other teams, analyzing if our brass has lost its touch. Wondering what’s ahead.
I’m one of the guys who has spent years defending this game in markets where it’s hard to be a hockey fan. Markets where people can tell you without looking at a calendar when deer season starts, but couldn’t define icing if their fishing license depended on it. I’ve taken countless dates to hockey games and sat there while they looked at the ice, having no idea why the whistle was blowing, why there were only “three quarters” and how much longer they had to sit there. I’ve been the “strange guy who likes hockey” at parties, clinging to anyone visiting from “the North” who had an interest in the game.
I’m the guy who has loved you through previous lockouts, through bad TV deals with networks nobody had ever heard of, through late-night West Coast games that kept me up into the wee hours. I have loved you deeply…baby…I have loved you strong and longtime…and I have loved you without hesitation. It always felt right.
But now I’ve fucking had it.
This lockout is the most ridiculous heap of bullshit I’ve ever seen in our game, and the longer it drags out, the easier it gets to deal with the fact that YOU…as a hopeless triumvirate of teams, league officials and players…essentially broke up with ME. I’m looking around. I’m realizing that those summer activities that occupied my time, the ones that inevitably got replaced with hockey in the fall, they’re just evolving. They’re turning into more movies, more football, more other random-ass sports that I’m enjoying these days.
The fact that we’re cancelling regular season games, to me, represents a complete failure by everyone. I’m not taking sides. You’re all dicks and you each carry some responsibility for what is happening right now – or better yet, what isn’t happening. I stopped paying attention weeks ago to the bickering over revenue splits. “Oh, some unnamed team official leaked commentary about the lockout?” Did I see that somewhere this morning? I can’t even remember.
You are making this far too easy. For a guy who has spent three decades loving and defending this game, the absence of that responsibility actually feels nice right now. It’s a luxury to not have to describe why I love the game to people who were minimally interested in the game back in the 90′s and then dropped off with the last lockout. The longer this goes on, the more I appreciate not staying up until 2 am doing a game recap or cancelling plans with friends on a Thursday because the game is on.
I take no responsibility for this breakup. I lay this entirely at your doorstep, and all the finger pointing, all the blaming and the accusations about who is being unreasonable are melding into this stew of indifference from a fan – a real fan – who is tired of all your bullshit.
To the league, to the teams, to the players, until you can act like grownups and make this right, you can all go fuck yourselves. Don’t call me with an update. Call me when there’s real hockey to watch, and call me grovelling. You’ve got some explaining to do.