Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How Does it Feel to be an NHL Fan?


I have been thinking a lot during this lockout about how it feels to be an NHL fan right now. I've tried explaining to my friends who aren't hockey fans what it feels like. I haven't come up with the right analogy to make them understand my pain, until now. That moment came when the NHL entered its current holding pattern of not communicating with each other. The phrase holding pattern got me thinking.

Imagine yourself on a plane that is about to take off. You are on the tarmac and it's a 90 degree day with extreme humidity, making the temperature feel about 100 degrees. Your flight is supposed to be only about an hour and a half, so the plane isn't fully stocked with water and food.

Unknown to you, the airline that you are travelling on is having a dispute with all its employees and their respective unions. The airline decides to lockout their employees. All company employees are told to leave their current duties at once.

You and all your fellow passengers are left on the plane without any food, water or air conditioning. You think to yourself, the authorities and the airline can't possibly allow their passengers/fans to remain in a holding pattern, can they? You think that's not a possibility. Consider the badwill and lost customers that will result. You consider that the airline will lose millions if not billions of dollars.

One hour turns into two hours that turns into 5 hours. Now you're weak. The anger and frustration that you've been feeling starts subsiding. You are getting weaker by the hour. You think to yourself, how long will this thing drag out? It can't go on much longer can it? The airline surely cares about their customers, don't they? The airline didn't forget about their passengers, did they?

Now consider the NHL fan. You have entered day 60 of the lockout. You believed that at least part of the season could be salvaged. You believed that in the end both the NHL and NHLPA considered their customers and wouldn't abandon them. Then last week, there seemed to be positive signs that a deal was going to get done. There were 4 intense days of meetings. The the whole thing fell apart and both sides entered a period of non-communication.

How has your 60 days of lockout been?  You turn on the TV every day to your favorite sports news program and hear about the latest news about the lockout and it isn't good. You log on to your favorite hockey pages/articles and read about the lockout and it isn't good. You turn to your team's home page and see the empty schedule and you sigh. You feel betrayed. You feel annoyed. There's absolutely nothing you can do. You are powerless. Your frustration builds, until the weakness that stems from your frustration takes over. You are a beaten person and now give up. You are now numb.

To my friends who are reading this, I hope you understand how the NHL fan feels. If you live in a strong hockey market like Canada or hockey markets like Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota and Wisconsin in the US (If I left one out, please forgive me), the frustration of not being able to watch your favorite team is all you can take right now. If you are like me, you are turning to other sports and other teams. You can't will the sides to act like decent and honorable people. You are turning elsewhere and who knows if you will ever return.

The airline scenario above is not based on an actual event or incident. It's meant for parody and the likelihood of it happening is remote, due to legislation and regulation.

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