January 19th will be the true test for hockey fans…

Pour some sugar on me…

Toronto, ON Opening Night is only 5 days away, and as such my usual brand of timely hockey dreaming has really started to take off. I’m starting to think hockey dreams are my personal equivalent of the recurring “missed university exam” dream. There was, of course, that telling dream I had the night before the Lockout ended. I dreamt I was at a Rangers/Panthers game at MSG, and that I couldn’t find my seat because my tickets were fake. Naturally, the claws came out, and much blood was spilled over this injustice. The timing is interesting, yes? Another dream I had a few days ago was quite spicy indeed, and involved a not-to-be-named NHL player brazenly waking me up in the middle of the night by pouring honey all over me… Or at least I hope that was honey… All I can say is thank god I had taken my nice red dress off before I went to bed in that dreamland! Anyway, I woke up feeling both disturbed and violated, although, I admit, given certain factors, probably not nearly as disturbed and violated as I would have felt, say, before I left for Japan WINK! In the words of the Double Rainbow guy, “What does it meaaaaaan?!”

Now, don’t freak out or anything, I can honestly say that catching a game at Madison Square Garden is pretty unlikely this season, as MSG probably ranks 30th in NHL rinks on my list for potential upcoming visits. No offense to Rangers fans, but you guys charge Toronto prices, and it still costs me more in gas or flights, and hotels to go there. It ends up becoming a very costly adventure. Once was enough! I’d much rather see a Devils game if I’m heading out that way, as you can probably tell seeing as I’ve seen 4 games at Prudential Center, compared to 1 at MSG, and 2 at Nassau Coliseum. That being said, I can tell you that I WILL be seeing NHL hockey over the next few weeks. Now, before you go calling me or anyone else a hypocrite, let’s take a minute to discuss what it means to be a fan after the 2012 NHL Lockout.

It was easy to put your foot down and declare that you weren’t going to take crap from the NHL anymore during the Lockout. However, it was also quite difficult not to get swept up in all the excitement when the Lockout ended, the schedule was released, and training camps started. That being said, I don’t think the NHL can really hang their hat on this wave of excitement. I mean, a lot of us are happy not to have to read about CBA shit any longer. We’re happy that Don Cherry’s suits and opinions have returned to pepper our Saturday nights like only he can. We’re happy to go to our local pub and not be forced to sit through various (inferior) NBA games, but does all of this mean we have totally forgiven the NHL?

Many fans will likely watch on TV and keep track of stats and standings, but will they head down to the rink, buy jerseys, or subscribe to Game Center, etc? Only time will tell. I’m sure a lot of fans are waiting to see what the NHL does to beg our forgiveness. Probably not much. For me personally, more hockey now is less hockey in the future. The only way for me to hurt the NHL is to finally finish what I started. I collect hockey rinks, and I just can’t get my head around abandoning the NHL with only 4 empty slots remaining in my collection. Trust me, I’ve tried. I’ve been trying since 2010 when I thought Korea would help me to stay away from hockey forever – I sincerely wanted that to work out.

I also said that if I was to go abroad again, it would be hard to not go to a couple games knowing that I will likely miss most of next season. Truthfully, I am still actively working towards my Saudi visa, and have been undergoing the medicals, and etc, so that I get over there as soon as possible. Once again, I have a strange feeling about actually leaving. I physically can’t “see” it yet, which is odd for me. However, in the event that I DO go away, I’ve tried to schedule in a few games early on in this 48-game season – just in case. Expect me to do a bit of damage between now and the first week of February.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that we should remember to be kind to our fellow hockey fans this Saturday when our Lockout vows and promises are finally put to the test. That is, be kind to the fans who didn’t formulate schemes for idiotic first period walkouts! Yeah, PAY for your ticket and THEN leave – that’ll learn ‘em! At the end of the day, we are all hockey fans. We were abused this season, and some of us are stronger than others in that they have the balls to follow through and walk away. That said, both camps will call the other names this weekend. Those that stayed to support the NHL will call those that left false in their fandom. Those that left will call the others stupid for sticking around. Let’s not point fingers at each other, and remember who is to blame for bringing us to this crossroad. At the end of the day, being a fan in this NHL is like being in an abusive relationship. We give and we give, and they take and they take. At the end of the day, we know we should walk away, but we claim that we are in love, and that’s what stops us from turning the door knob each and every time (or lockout). At the end of the day, it takes true strength and courage to walk away from something you really, truly loved. Remember… It is practically impossible to be wounded emotionally, if you didn’t put your heart on the line in the first place. It’s a pretty safe bet that most of the fair weather fans were virtually unfazed by what happened this NHL season.

Let the games begin!

Top Video: If you’re still feeling guilty about buying NHL tickets this year, I find this song usually helps with my hockey trip guilt. A favourite album of mine since I was 10 years old!


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