The NHL Lockout; Robbing Our Dreams.

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I have decided to take a few steps in a different direction for this entry.  Hockey is my ultimate passion. It’s something I have loved since I remember seeing the Bruins roller hockey goalie pick a puck out of the corner and through a meat lover up to some oiler who probably sniped.  I think I was 4? Maybe.  I don’t know.  We must have just been flipping through the TV from watching the PBR, or watching 8 seconds. Again. Lane Frost was my hero. My dad was a bullrider back then in the day, so to me, the coolest thing at the time was rodeos.  Till he showed me hockey.

Fast-forward 19 years.  I’ve spent 19 years playing hockey in any way shape or form you can imagine.  In my driveway with a mini stick when I was 5; in our gravel driveway on some small street in Mayerthorpe albeit.   I used to go outside with my mini sticks and a tennis ball and pretend I was both the Ottawa Senators & the Mighty Ducks. I have no idea why those 2 teams.  Anyway. I was both of them in my driveway hockey. And, I’d also be the commentator.  Picture this.  Small-cowboy town Mayerthorpe, AB, here is this pudgy 4 foot zip five year old basically running line touches in a muddy driveway with a mini stick in his hand while yelling to himself “He shoots! Oh no! What a save!” Then, the odd time, I’d think I was Guy Hebert and I’d get on my knees, in the dirt and somehow shoot the ball at myself and make a huge save.  Sometimes I scored on myself though. Hated when that happened.  But, seriously. Picture this.  If I saw something like that now, I’d probably think.. man, does this kid have parents ? Cause they have a handful… or, maybe not.  It’d be pretty cool to see someone love the game that much that young.  So, yes. I found way to play hockey in any way shape or form. Table hockey, mini hockey In the basement, kitchen, tub, bathroom, living room, front lawn, back lawn.  Wherever!  Then, as I grew up and finally learned how to skate (still learning) I played on the ice. Finally. While, continuing to play everywhere else too. Pond, street, back yards.  My buddies and I used to go over to his place and we’d have 2 on 2 tourneys on the grass. Chris would go in net cause he was too good to play out, and frankly, he was too good to play goal too.  But, we’d start this tournament at 4pm after school, and we’d play until either the cup was won, or my mom called asking me if I forgot where I lived.  I think we started these tournaments when we were 13 or so, and we played them up until a few years ago. We just got too big, slow, and out of shape to keep playing. And Chris continued to just get way too good. But, we’d play under the lights, we’d keep score, have legit round robs, and have leading scorers.  Man, what a time.  And if I didn’t win. I’d get some pouty.  But, not as pouty as our buddy Brett would get.  I think that’s why we went on the same team most of the time, cause otherwise we’d fight each other.  And, still we bickered back and forth about who wasn’t pulling their weight.  Some of these grass hockey games got so intense that there would eventually be bodies flying, I can remember it got pretty nasty one time, and a buddy took a run at another guy, who turtled, and sent the one guy flying.  Well, I can’t remember who it was. Evan maybe? But, he certainly didn’t forget that hit; later in the playoffs he caught him against the boards (the fence) and put him right through the fence.  Knocked the planks right out. Then about 8 of us, who were enjoying our game off and resting up, instantly began howling. Here a buddy just drilled another guy through his fence.  You’d think we’d be like “holy shit!” and concerned… Nope. We started howling and carried on play as soon as buddy got up. And, off we went.  It was a battle. It was probably playoffs.

Man, did we ever have some fun back then.  Looking back, I miss those days so much.  Sitting through science 10 waiting to get to chris’ place and help him clean the ice (mow the grass) so that we had the best playing surface. Haha… who am I kidding.  He cut the grass, I sat there and taped my stick and drew up the tourney board.  To this day, I think I am the all time leading grass hockey scorer.

Hockey is something that has had a serious impact on my life. My life, my buddies lives. Everywhere its hockey. This is a game we grew up on, and invested so many hours upon. That’s why this lockout has been such a disappointment for me.  I haven’t said much about it. Im not angry with either the players, or owners. Really. Frankly, I don’t think the owners have the nuts to speak for themselves so they bow down to pigeons like Bettman.  Who, I am angry with. But, all in all, I am just disappointed.  As a fan, I just feel like after investing all this time into this game, I have been given the ultimate fuck you by the man who ultimately runs the show. Unfortunately.

I think being disappointed is almost a worse feeling anyways.  I just feel bad for so many people.  I don’t feel bad for any of the owners, I don’t feel bad for some of the NHL players either.  At least, not the one who are pocketing millions.  The lesser of the NHLers who are now “out of a job” instead of “out of a season” Them, I feel horrible for.  The guys that have to grind to keep their job. The stars, although, I certainly appreciate their skills and talents, and by no means do I fault them.  But, they are making millions of dollars playing a game in front of thousands that I used to play by myself in the mud with a plastic stick that was half my height.  While I yelled to myself in the process.  So, no.  I don’t have any sympathy for you either.

I feel sorry for the kids who are just playing the game because they love it. They aren’t making a big pay cheque, they are playing the game for one reason.. Because they God Damn love it, and are good enough, and have worked hard enough to play the game at a high level.  Although, they may never make the NHL, and might play in central league, the east coast, or wherever else forever, and make minimal money doing it, living in a shitty town. But, they do it cause they love it.  I feel awful for these guys because now they are going to lose their jobs, they are going to be robbed of there dreams because, ultimately, Bettman needs more money.  So, some guy in the ECHL is going to have to give up his dream.  Playing hockey.  Because of the domino effect of NHL players going to the AHL à AHL players then go to the ECHL à ECHL players then go….  I feel horrible for these folk.

I feel terrible for the kids growing up on hockey like I used too, that want so much to learn to the game, and be apart of hockeys future, they are being robbed of a season, an opportunity to learn about something great. The greatest game.

I feel terrible for those guys who put on there steel toes and head to work at the crack of the dawn, and spend weeks away from there family and friends in the middle of nowhere working harder than anyone should.  And, all they can look forward too is coming home and watching HNIC with there kids, or heading to the pub with some buddies for some wings and a beer and a chance to shoot the shit while they watch there team.  I feel bad for these guys.  They don’t deserve this.

I feel terrible for the young kids, adults who have jobs at NHL facilities shitty jobs like being an usher, or a concession attendant, a beer boy, hell, even the cheerleaders.  They are likely working to pay for some tuition, or some stupid textbook, or, to even just get by on the 12.50 an hour they may get.  Now, they too are jobless.

I feel terrible for some of the families of these players.  The players are left to move somewhere overseas to play hockey, and take away the job of some other kid. Meanwhile, the wife, and the youngsters are left somewhere in North America while the husband, father is away at work.  And after the tragedy that happened last year in Russia.  This I think must be even more difficult for families as per usual.  As per usual.  That’s terrible.  We can already refer to an action during a lockout as “as per usual” because this is the third damn time Bettman has taken this away.

Hockey is a passion for a tonne of people including myself, but its more than that, it too, is a job, and more than anything, it can be a dream for so many kids, and a dream that some people are fortunate enough to live.  And the NHL/NHLPA has no problem taking that away from some of us.

Thanks Gary.

Do the right thing.

– Blair.

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