The NHL lockout is over.
I’ve been waiting four months to type that sentence. Four months of agonizing, frustrating, maddening, (insert your own thought here) CBA talks are finally over.
I went to bed Saturday night with a faint glimmer of hope and woke up to an AP breaking news alert on my phone saying the two sides had reached an agreement.
For me, this was like waking up on Christmas morning as a kid and seeing Santa had come.
Am I angry at the league for the lockout nearly costing us a second season in the last decade?
Absolutely, and that can’t be emphasized enough. Exposure and revenue had never been higher and that has taken a severe hit as a result of the lockout.
However, I am completely ready to go all in despite the fact the fans were not considered pretty much at all throughout this process.
The league has a lot to be worried about when games start later this month, but I don’t think they’ll have to worry in traditional hockey markets.
It’s the markets like Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, etc. which might have the hardest time bringing people back…again.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, the NHL might do in order to throw the fans a bone in the aftermath of the lockout. Time will tell.
Regardless, I’m very happy to have Penguins hockey back again.
I may be in the minority on the “all in” approach to the lockout being over, but there are reasons for it.
Some die-hard fans I’ve spoken with online or in person have found other sports or activities to occupy their time and aren’t going to spend money on the NHL for a while.
If you fall into that category, no one would blame you.
No one would also blame you if you chose to walk away from the league entirely. They’ve given you every right to do so over the last decade.
For me, there is no other sport than hockey. It’s all I know and now that the best players in the world will be back and competing on a nightly basis in the NHL, I’ll be there.
Sure, I watch football and baseball and have rooting interests in both. However, nothing compares to hockey for me.
It’s why I threw myself into Germany’s DEL during the lockout and have been absorbing everything I possibly could about it. While my adopted team (Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams), isn’t having the best go of it this season, it’s hockey.
I’ll still be following them closely even with the NHL back in action. The lockout broadened my hockey horizons, so there’s one good thing to come from it for me.
I grew up watching the NHL with my parents, grandparents and friends. Sure, I was always being given a hard time because I was the lone non-Penguins fan in the family at the time. However, some of my best memories as a kid were watching Bruins-Penguins games with the family.
To this day, I get phone calls from my grandfather after those two teams meet.
I also get texts and calls from my dad (Marty Brodeur super fan) every time the Penguins and Devils square off.
In college, my roommate for three years was a huge Maple Leafs fan. We had two televisions in the room so that we could watch as much hockey as possible.
Hockey was the only sport I ever played competitively as a kid as well. For me, the NHL has always been the pinnacle of the sport. If there’s a game on, I’m watching it.
My wife wasn’t a hockey fan before we started dating, but she is now. I spent an entire season drawing diagrams on napkins and scrap paper to teach her what was going on. Now, she’s yelling at the television or even referees in person before I do. It makes me smile every time.
Part of me still thinks her taking an interest in the sport was because I had commandeered our lone television with upgraded cable at the time and hockey was always on. Either way, I’ll take it.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I can’t walk away from the league that has brought me many good memories in life. The league and sport have helped me get through some of the toughest times of my life.
It’s also been there during the best times of my life. For example, the NHL was even part of my wedding day.
As we walked into the lobby of the hotel for our reception, several Red Wings players were milling about after their pregame dinner. Obviously, it would have been better if the Pens were in New Jersey that night, but this still illustrates the point.
The NHL is always going to be a part of me. It’s just the way it is.
Am I a sucker for being this quick to get excited about the NHL again? Maybe, but I’m looking at it from a cautiously optimistic standpoint.
Baring anything drastic, we know we won’t have to deal with CBA talks for at least eight years, which is when the opt-outs of this new 10-year deal kick in.
Hopefully, this current CBA model is the basis for sustained labor peace among the NHL and NHLPA so that we never have to go through this mind-numbing process again.
Time will tell, but I’m glad it’s finally over and we can get back to watching the best players in the world do what they do best.
Welcome back NHL, now let’s drop the puck.