So it happened. Again.
At 8:59pm PT last Saturday night, a lockout of NHL players began. The current collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) expired and the two sides failed to come to a new agreement prior to the September 15th deadline.
This puts Anaheim Ducks hockey on hold. Indefinitely. There has already been a league-wide cancellation of all preseason games through September 30th.
I wish a solution was as easy as swiping my finger across my iPhone. But it isn’t. For those who have been fans of this great game for awhile, it’s seems like we were just here, doesn’t it?
The 2004/2005 season was lost in its entirety to a lockout as well. And here we are again. I’m not going to use this space to analyze and pick apart every piece of the negotiations, or even give you my opinion on how it could be fixed. There are plenty of other writers and sites that are covering the drama thoroughly. (Check out The Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens’ proposed solution and take the polls there.) Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what I think. There’s so much finger pointing and posturing. Like we really need more of that in an election year, right?
I will say as a fan, this is not where the league with the world’s best players in the greatest game on earth should be in mid-September. It’s shameful. And after agreeing to return for “one more year”, the idea that we may never see Teemu Selanne play on Honda Center ice again because of this makes my stomach turn. (The Finnish Flash went public with some fightin’ words of his own that you can read here.)
Here is the league’s official statement that was released after the lockout began. And here is the Anaheim Ducks’ version. The NHLPA put out their own response in video form that you can view here. The popular thinking is that we will see our favorite teams and players back on the ice by Thanksgiving. I’m not so sure about that. I think it will go longer. No inside info. Just a gut feeling. I hope I’m wrong.
So what about the fans’ response? Oh, there’s been plenty of that, as words and images from the fans have flooded social media services such as Twitter and Facebook. There have been hashtags and blog posts and tweets exhibiting all sorts of ranges of emotions. There’s even a tearjerker of a video a fan from Finland put together. But as we all know, none of it makes any difference when it comes to the negotiations. It’s a business. I came across an article last week by Bruce Arthur on NationalPost.com via some fellow Ducks fans on Twitter that spoke some hard truth:
“The only way to truly affect the NHL and its players would be when they come back. Don’t watch, don’t buy team memorabilia, don’t go to the games. Pretend the lockout never ended, and keep spending time with family and friends, watching other sports, going to the movies. Whatever gets you through the night.
But you won’t, and they know you won’t.“
Hard, but true words.
So hockey fans, what will you do? If we lose another full season, will that change your participation in the league when it comes to your pocketbook? (Here’s another fan-made video calling for a one-year boycott of all NHL merchandise.) Will you give up your season seats? Will you stop buying t-shirts and jerseys? Or will you be so overjoyed when this madness ends, that you’ll be back in full purchasing-power force? They are all betting on the latter. This sport has a hold on fans’ hearts and souls like no other, I believe.
My husband and I were trying to explain to our daughters, in simple terms, why we weren’t going to be attending Ducks hockey games any time soon. From the back seat of our car, our six-year-old offered this albeit simple but brilliant solution:
“Why don’t they just split the money in half? That would be fair.”
Oh, out of the mouths of babes.
Here’s the good news. The title of this blog is When Girls Love Hockey, not When Girls Love NHL Hockey, so I’ll tell you what you will see in this space in the immediate future. This elongated hiatus from Ducks hockey gives us a chance to put the spotlight on some other local options for the sport that we love.
Like high school hockey. The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League added four schools this season to bring their league totals to 12 schools and 14 teams for the 2012-13 season. The ADHSHL plays their games on Saturdays at Anaheim Ice. At the college level, we have both USC Ice Hockey, which plays their home games at Anaheim Ice and Cal State Fullerton Titans Ice Hockey playing their home games at KHS Ice Arena. I might even take a trip out to Ontario to support the Reign of the ECHL. And of course, I’ll keep you updated on my six-year-old Mite as she continues to tear up the ice.
In addition to exploring some other SoCal hockey options, I’ll probably do a lot of baking. Because I love to bake. And even though it’s 90+ degrees outside in OC these days, I’m thinking there’s some apple crisp and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in my future. Yum.
And I’m going to go to see Taken 2. I saw Taken with Liam Neeson a few years ago and loved it. Dude’s a stud. In fact, Liam Neeson is so awesome, I’m sure if he were in charge of this league, it wouldn’t be in this mess, right? Right.
Sigh. I miss Ducks hockey already.
What will you be doing with your “free” time during the NHL lockout?
Will your spending patterns in regards to the NHL change at all once this is over?
*NHL Lockout graphic from Twitter…..If I knew from where it originated, I would give that person credit. The image is spot on.