By Jason Klau
The NHL season opens back up this Saturday, January 19, with 13 games on the docket. It was a negotiation that went on WAY too long, but finally, it's over, and this hockey fan is as excited to start a season as ever.
Throughout the lockout, you've probably read about my extreme dissapointment and borderline depression over the lack of hockey, as well as my extreme frustration with the NHL. Us hockey fans have certainly been through a lot, but this NHLBro thinks it's time to let bygones be bygones and drop the damn puck!
If you read the blogs and sites all over the Internet, you're bound to find stories about a disgruntled fan who's cancelling their season tickets and forever turning their back on the league that betrayed them. What they don't seem to understand is, for a lot of teams, that protest is not going to work. For a lot of teams, they have another fan, a more enthusiastic fan, ready to swoop in and take their seats (Columbus Blue Jackets notwithstanding). Perhaps if every season ticket holder did the same thing the message would be clear, but frankly, most NHL fans that are diehard enough to buy season tix, are diehards enough to withstand a lockout.
Obviously, it hasn't been an ideal situation. For the fans buying tickets, a 7:00 game after work is just the thing you may need. The league can certainly make it up to its fans with some free NHL Network or Center Ice (or anything, c'mon, league, throw us some kind of bone) but in the end, I'm just happy to have my favorite professional sport back.
We should all realize that in the end, the teams are businesses and the players are employees. And like many professions with a unionized workforce (Wisconsin not included), unions and employers sometimes don't see eye to eye. Owners and players alike had millions of dollars on the line, and they did what they felt was necessary.
But finally, we can all rest easy. Hockey exists again. While other sports fans mock the sport and probably didn't give a damn about it being locked out, us diehards should feel relieved. The wounds may take some time to heal, but inevitably, the residual resentment will calm down, and we can all finally do what we do best, go nuts for our sport.
One thing that people complain about with the NHL is that the season is too long. That games early on seem meaningless (I get mad when baseball fans say this) and that it doesn't even get the least bit exciting until April. As BS of a statement as that is, now, 48 games in a cram-packed schedule should mean a ton of excitement. The hits, the saves, the goals, the overtime thrillers and the adrenaline pumping action are all back.
Lets get excited for what seemed like the impossible, NHL hockey in 2013.