COLUMN: Shh … hockey’s on!

I’m an obsessed hockey fan, so I nearly lost my mind during the NHL lockout.

For the first few months of hockey deprivation, I convinced myself that “good-faith bargaining” was taking place between the owners and players, and all of these hockey-free evenings would be beneficial chunks of time for diligently working on my master’s thesis.

I couldn’t stay in denial forever, though (and I never really worked on my thesis much, for that matter). I gave up on there being a 2012-13 NHL season sometime in late October. To fill the void in my life, I purchased a $70 regulation-sized hockey net for my apartment and practiced my wrist shot late into most nights, much to the chagrin of my downstairs neighbors (I don’t think they’re hockey fans).

But during winter break, a post-Christmas miracle occurred. The players and owners decided to let bygones be bygones, and a new hockey season emerged out of the mist like Pavel Datsyuk cutting through two defensemen on a breakaway.

When I heard the NHL was slated to resume games on Jan. 19, I jumped around and let out a high-pitched, girlish scream (much like how Sidney Crosby celebrates goals). However, I was shocked to find out not everyone in the world shared my uninhibited level of excitement.

A few of my friends became blasphemers, swearing not to watch a single game in the upcoming season. They apparently figure a boycott is the best way to exorcise feelings of spite toward the people who have provided them with hours of free entertainment.

Other friends erroneously continue to call the lockout a “strike,” insinuating that greed on the part of the players was responsible for the partial loss of a season. However, in labor relations, the term “lockout” refers to business entities not allowing their employees to work.

The NHL lockout was caused by owners who wanted to reduce players' salaries. Even though NHL players make millions more than almost everyone you and I know, isn’t it hypocritical to blame them for not wanting a pay cut?  Most people I know don’t take kindly to losing pay they’re used to receiving.

Just because they want to be paid fairly for their marketable skills that fans pay to see, NHL players should not be labeled as greedy. Also, any sort of personal vendetta in the form of a boycott is going to be negated by the millions of mindless, yet passionate, fans like me who love the game too much to stay upset.

If you have to blame someone for the NHL lockout, blame the owners. However, I’d advise hockey fans against blaming anyone. The NHL is back, and your spiteful muttering is very distracting while I’m trying to hear Mickey Redmond.


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