Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life Without Hockey?

Now that both the NHL and NHLPA are entrenched in their positions and it is becoming obvious that an 82 NHL game schedule will not be possible, are you going to have to live a life without hockey this season? No, no and no.

If you live in a hockey market like Minnesota, where I live or in Canada, you have some hockey options. In Minnesota we are lucky to have one of the best high school hockey league’s in the United States. Our high School hockey is very exciting and the talent is so good, it comes in at a close second to Canada’s junior hockey.

I’ve watched some games that have included watching my local high school hockey team that made it to state last year and both sectional and state high school tournament games. I've been very impressed at the quality of those games. Besides being exciting, the players haven’t been tarnished by professional sports. They still have most of their innocence for the game and their passion for it as well. That shows in their play and desire to play hard for their team.

In Minnesota, we also have college hockey (WCHA). In the Twin Cities where I live, we have the Minnesota Golden Gophers. While I’m an alumnus of the University of North Dakota (whatever their nickname is going to be) and a fan of the team, the Gophers are an exciting and top ranked squad. At the very least I have the opportunity of attending a quality college hockey game and cheering for their opponent.

So we have options in Minnesota and if you have something similar in your neck of the woods, make sure to take in some games. You won’t be disappointed. You will also be supporting your local community and their teams. Who knows, you might never want to attend another NHL game again.

OK. That might be a stretch but you will notice a different attitude with High School and many college players. They still are playing hockey for all the right reasons. They haven’t abandoned their love for the game. They also play for organizations that also have the best interests (for the most part) of hockey in mind. That’s more noticeable at the high school level but college hockey is at the top of the list as well.

I've focused this article on the US hockey consumer. We all know that our friends to the north live and breathe hockey. That’s a given. We know that Canadians have other sources of hockey other than the NHL. While NHL hockey is at the top of their food chain, they will find another outlet to fulfill their need for hockey.

It’s the fans in other parts of the United States that don’t have many outlets. It’s the fans in non-traditional markets that will lose big time and that’s where the NHL will be hit the hardest. In those markets they will turn to any sport to fill the void. Heck, there might not be any void without NHL hockey. To many in those markets, the NHL is 1 out of hundreds of options. Hockey doesn't come first. Hockey isn't part of their lifestyle or culture. In those markets, the NHL might have some trouble finding it’s footing or should I say skates again.

It looks like I forgot about my European fiends. You have the KHL or other European leagues to fill that void. OK, I’m going to stop right there. This is way off topic and nonsense. If I wanted to watch diving, I would watch international diving events (I'm just kidding around).

For those of us who live in traditional hockey markets, we have options to fill our NHL hockey void. I strongly urge those of you to take advantage of other hockey options available to you. You might just find that they do indeed fill that void.

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