For many NHL hockey fans, the pending NHL lockout is frustrating. For others, it’s nauseating.
NHL owners are increasingly looking like a greedy group, content to let fans sit and stew as they fight for more money, trusting we’ll eventually come back. At the same time, it’s difficult for players, who earn an average of $2.4 million per season, to garner much sympathy. How people rich beyond the belief of most of us can’t figure out how to carve up the profits from an industry which makes $3.3 billion annually in revenues is mind-boggling.
Accordingly, the fine details of revenue shares and potential changes to free agency and contract limits are eye-glazing to most fans. To paraphrase Green Day, the attitude has become Wake Me Up When The Lockout Ends. Time to turn the page and take advantage of the free time.
Here are 10 tongue-in-cheek tips to filling the void and surviving the lockout.
1–About that beer gut: Take a look at the Senators schedule. Ask yourself how many games you would have watched, either at Scotiabank Place or on TV. Give yourself three hours of found time for each game and use it for jogging around the block, stepping on an elliptical machine or picking up a set of barbells. Okay, we know that’s not going to happen. Here’s a better challenge of self-discipline: when you’re filling that idle time watching Friends, Seinfeld or South Park re-runs, see if you can maintain the willpower to make fewer trips to the kitchen for re-fills of beer, pop and chips.
2–Find a new (old) sport: So you don’t like to run or do sit-ups? No problem. Apparently, the roller derby season is over, but don’t despair. If you’re so inclined, there’s plenty of opportunity to pick up ultimate frisbee, volleyball, curling, floor hockey and, yes, dodgeball. Any chance to throw Patches O’Houlihan’s infamous “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball” line into everyday conversation is welcome. Failing that, you can jump on a bike and play Dodge The Geese while taking a spin on the newly-named Sir John A Macdonald Parkway.
3–Forget the politics of sport, how about the sport of politics? We’re taking no sides here, but it’s unfortunate the Quebec Election is next Tuesday, meaning an end to the string of ridiculously unwise comments, pie-in-the-sky promises and endless PR spin. But wait. All is not lost. We’ve still got the two-month countdown to the U.S. Presidential election to watch. If you thought the feud between Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr was ugly, just wait for the nasty Republican and Democratic campaign ads which will soon take over the airwaves.
4–Read a book or two: Sure, it might be novel idea, but it’s time to do something about the five or six paperbacks collecting dust on a side table, waiting for a rainy day to be opened. Buy an ebook reader. Take a stroll into a bookstore and think about this: your average NHL player has no clue about the time and turmoil an author goes through to write a book and accomplish the miracle of getting it published. You might even find a hockey book. Beware, though: Fifty Shades of Grey is not full of pictures of the Stanley Cup.
5–Pay closer attention to MLB or the NFL: It’s small solace, but for long time fans of the Montreal Expos, there’s some fun in watching the Washington Nationals endure a heated internal debate about whether to shut down 24-year-old pitcher Stephen Strasburg as they pursue a World Series title. For NFL junkies who can never get enough of statistics, there’s extra time for an additional game inside the game: adding up the number of (unreported) concussions which occur each week.
6– Re-discover music: For those of us of a certain age, it’s disheartening to hear former rock classics re-made, with a rap influence. Maybe it helps keep us young, but clearly it’s an acquired taste. And is anybody else tired of hearing a Taylor Swift song every time they step into a store? In case you’re wondering, her latest hit, We Are Never Ever Ever Never Ever Getting Never Back Together is not a tribute anthem to NHL owners and players.
7 — Start an American Hockey League pool: Time to pore over the rosters of the Lake Erie Monsters, Rockford IceHogs and Peoria Rivermen, looking for potential sleepers. If, as expected, the Edmonton Oilers assign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle to the Oklahoma City Barons for the duration of the lockout, should they be given the Wayne Gretzky treatment and be exempt from the fantasy draft? Tip: if you’re counting penalty minutes, don’t overlook Joel “Wrecker” Rechlicz of the Portland Pirates, who piled up a whopping 267 penalty minutes in only 44 AHL games last season.
8 — Take in some junior hockey: Ottawa West opens its Jr. B season against Gatineau on Sept. 14 and the Ottawa 67′s begin the regular season Sept. 20 against Barrie. Interesting background for the 67′s, who are playing this season at Scotiabank Place. While all Canadian Hockey League players are dreaming of the big dollars of the big leagues, they’re not guaranteed anything, including a university education. The battle for a CHL union has pitted former NHL tough guy George Laraque against former NHL players turned junior team owners Patrick Roy and Mark Recchi. Ever notice that Patrick Roy is always in the middle of a controversy?
9 — Start a renovation project: Think of the money you’ll be saving by not buying Senators tickets and use it to fix up the basement or TV room. At least throw some new paint on the walls. When the lockout does end, the environment for watching games will be improved. When the lockout does end, maybe the owners will agree to lower ticket prices across the board to thank fans for their great patience, providing more disposable income to attend a few more games. Well, don’t hold your breath waiting for that. You have a better chance of hammering your thumb and watching it change colours.
10 — More movie date nights?: There’s something coming at the big screen for the sports fan. Clint Eastwood, now 82 years old, is playing the role of an aging baseball scout in Trouble With the Curve. Surfing fans might like Chasing Mavericks. For those with kids, Disney has re-packaged a pair of animated Pixar movies, Finding Nemo and Monsters, both in 3-D. From here, it looks like a greedy cash grab, but that should make the NHL fan feel at home.