The NHL is back and I don’t care.
Strike that. I care because of the innocent businesses and arena employees whose income was affected by the work stoppage. I’m excited for them that the lockout that began in September has finally ended. But other than that, there’s not a bone in my body that’s excited about NHL hockey at the moment.
My current disinterest in the league has nothing to do with protesting. This is not a situation where I’m ignoring a game I enjoy, just to stick it to the NHL and the NHLPA. I’m simply feeling uninspired to watch after sitting through yet another of the league’s work stoppages—the fourth in the last two decades and the third lockout of the Commissioner Gary Bettman era—with this latest version having lasted for well over 100 days.
In the early stages of the lockout, I felt disgust toward Bettman, the owners and the players’ association. I expected that, once NHL play started up again, my skipping games would be part of a personal boycott due to the greedy parties appearing to forget about the fans as they dragged out their back-and-forth.
But at some point in the last few weeks, my frustration gave way to apathy and, eventually, I found myself comfortably thinking I could live without NHL hockey. Now, I’m at a point where I need no convincing; I have no urge to turn on an NHL game as soon as they start-up.
Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the NHL brand of hockey, I’m very much feeling inspired to watch the sport itself. If I still lived in the DC area, I imagine going without NHL games would be tougher, as there aren’t high quality hockey options in that region other than the Washington Capitals. The AHL’s Hershey Bears are over two hours away and high level college hockey is even further. Perhaps I’d reluctantly go to Caps games, just to see some hockey, until my passion for the NHL eventually returned.
But a few weeks ago, my family and I moved to Connecticut and on Saturday night I attended my first Division I college hockey game in over 10 years, watching the Quinnipiac men’s team defeat Harvard to extend their unbeaten streak to 14. The hockey was exciting, the arena was great and at no point did I find myself feeling like I was watching a lower quality product than I’d see at an NHL game (though obviously there is a difference in the overall skill level). I can’t wait to get back to another college game and I imagine it will be weeks or days before I attend my next, not years like last time.
I’m not sure when I’ll feel the urge to invest time and money in the NHL again. It could be weeks or days or months. I doubt I’m gone for good. But the end of the lockout hardly has me excited to watch. The last of that desire left me weeks ago, drained while witnessing two sides bicker as if they didn’t care much about when NHL hockey started up again either, or for anyone but themselves. The agreement they are finalizing now would have been great news last summer.
The Washington Capitals sent a tweet at 1pm today telling people to “Stop by the Verizon Center Team Store today. A large selection of merchandise is 85% off!” The responses they’ve received back so far on Twitter are right in line with what you might expect during an NHL lockout that has many fans frustrated, as they go without hockey while waiting for the owners and players to sign a new collective bargaining agreement.
Kenneth Peacock (@VBKen) October 14, 2012
I'd prefer actual hockey, thanks... RT @washcaps: Stop by the Verizon Center Team Store today. A large selection of merchandise is 85% off!—
Danny (@recordsANDradio) October 14, 2012
I'll stop by on way to game! Oh, wait. RT @washcaps: Stop by Verizon Center Team Store today. A large selection of merchandise is 85% off!—
Patrick Holden (@pfholden) October 14, 2012
@washcaps anyone that spends a dollar on NHL merch during this lockout needs to have their head examined.—
Steve Hickey (@blueliner34) October 14, 2012
Ed Morgans (@edmorgans) October 14, 2012
YMS (@yvonison) October 14, 2012
Mike Holden (@mikeholden) October 14, 2012
Andrew Creamer (@acreamer8) October 14, 2012
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