When I was a kid, from the moment I learned there was such a thing as hockey until the day I left for college and no longer had a TV, I lived and breathed hockey. Whatever hockey was available, I consumed it, whether it was NBC’s weekly game, or HNIC when cable TV was invented and brought it to us, or college hockey, a few inches of column in the Detroit Free Press every morning, a recap on the radio, whatever — I ate it all up. For eleven years, I was a hockey consumer.
Then I went to college. I had no TV. Even if I had money for a TV, there was no cable in the dorm, so no way to watch faraway games. I couldn’t afford to go to college games, either. And I didn’t have a car, so there was no driving to find hockey wherever it might be. If I saw a newspaper, I would check the standings, but this was a weekly occurrence at best.
So the NHL and I just drifted apart. Not forever. But for seven or eight years, the amount of money I spent on hockey was exactly zero dollars and zero cents.
And I’m a hockey junkie. An addict. I’m one of those people the league counts on to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on merchandise and thousands of dollars on tickets, and hundreds on TV packages, and internet streaming packages, and hot dogs, and beverages, and parking.
Thanks to the Lock-Out, I’m vividly recalling the last time I really took time away from hockey. I’m remembering all the extra hours in the day, which then I used for studying (or, “studying”), and now I can use to spend time with my wife and son, read some books, catch up on entire seasons of shows I’ve missed, maybe even exercise more. Doesn’t matter.
I know the sport of hockey isn’t going anywhere. My son plays. I spend several hours at the rink with him every week. Watching the AHL games on line is fun. We have an ECHL team (the Reign) close by. And I know I can revisit the NHL whenever I feel like it. And, hey, that could be next week, if the league and union get it together, and I’m feeling kindly. But it could also be eight years from now. And that wouldn’t be so horrible.