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NHL returns after a long, barren winter

Liz Levey, ’Doah Staff Writer
February 6, 2013

The roar of the arena grows louder and louder as the clock ticks down. With only 10 seconds left, the teams are tied at two goals apiece. The home crowd has risen to their feet hoping that their boys in blue will pull off a win in the closing seconds of the game. Frantic passes are being sent across the rough ice, and with a second left the blue-shirts shoot and score! This is what hockey fans live for. But, for the last five months, it’s something they haven’t been able to get from the National Hockey League.

The NHL lockout that caused the 2012-2013 calendar to be mangled, finally came to an end Jan. 12, 2013. And, now that it’s over, most hockey fans have just one question for the NHL: What were you thinking?

Last year followed the fourth, straight season that the NHL saw record-setting profits. The playoffs, which led to a Stanley Cup victory for the Los Angeles Kings, were a heart-pounding ride. All sports fans hate a labor dispute, and coming off of such an exciting season, left hockey fans all the more upset. Seeing millionaire owners arguing over money, often just so they can continue to line their own pockets, rather than put that money into their team, is a hard thing for the average person to watch.

The NFL and NBA have each had their own labor disputes in the past few years, but unlike the NHL, they were resolved in a timely manner. While the NBA did miss a few games, it didn’t come anywhere close to the number the NHL has missed during this lockout. Since Sept. 15, the fans and players have missed out on over 32 games. The normal 82 game season has been cut in half, to 48 games. It took the NHL 119 days to come to this resolution. Looking at these numbers, you can’t help but think that they really don’t care about the fans at all.

The NHL knew that they could get away with locking out the players for a while without losing fans from the original six teams — the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Montréal Canadians, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks — but the smaller market teams, in cities more untraditionally connected to hockey such as those in Florida or North Carolina, will more than likely have lost a good number of fans. These cities don’t normally have arenas full of screaming fans, there typical only reach about half capacity.

The delay in games has led to both money and spirit lost. Fans can only take so much before they become frustrated, and stop caring. Such is the case for sophomore Ashton Starr, a Washington Capitals fan and season ticket-holder from Alexandria, Va. “I was pissed off, normally I would have seen a handful of games by now, since I go to school so close to my house, on the weekends I could go to games. Honestly, call me next season I am not in the hockey mood anymore.”

Some fans, like sophomore Eileen Weissenberger, who is a diehard New York Rangers fan, believe that some changes need to be made. “Every year the one thing I always look forward to is hockey. This year, without it has made me so lost. I feel like the NHL had no respect for the fans. I also feel like since there have been multiple lockouts under Gary Bettman, there is no reason that the NHL shouldn’t get a new commissioner.”

Even after all the trials and tribulations of a delayed season, hockey fans that live and die by their teams will come out in droves to finally see their team play again.

But, the thought of what could have happened this season if there wasn’t a lockout, will stay with us. And for the less than diehard fans, the NHL is going to have to find some way to gain back their hearts and minds if they want them to continue to spend their hard-earned money on their league.

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