I've got to come clean with you all: I'm addicted to NHL hockey.
I work for my college's athletic department, so I'm fortunate enough to be paid to watch a bunch of college hockey games. The action can get pretty heated, and the atmosphere is electric especially when the building's packed (which it isn't often enough) and the home team is doing well. It was all the live hockey I could get while the NHL was busy wasting everybody else's time.
Over the last few months, though, I realized I was never really motivated to follow the team or learn about the college game despite the fact that I knew very easily where I could pick up on it. I picked up game rosters for home and away every single game, yet I never really could name all the players on my own college's team with the same ease that I could name the roster, scratches, and prospects of the Red Wings. I understand people's frustrations with the #hockeyisback hashtag on Twitter, but for those of us who don't have the #hockeyneverleft reaction, that's only because the NHL is what fully soothes our hockey viewing palette.
On the morning when my mom and I are going to Staples Center to see the Kings raise their first championship banner in franchise history, I know that the NHL is the kind of hockey I crave. Especially the Red Wings, but not just them. I wanted the NHL to not be stupid and piss away the success they were having. I wanted the NHL to actually seem like they care for "the fans" with things beyond token gestures like "Thank you fans" painted on the ice by having the damn CBA negotiations not cut into the season. Most importantly, now that we've reached this point, I wanted the NHL to give us some confidence that this is the last of labor strife we've heard of in the NHL for good.
That won't happen. And despite all my conflicted feelings coming into this season since the lockout ended, I say with firmness in my fingers as I type this Fanpost that since "the business side" of the NHL is out of my control, I refuse to from here on in to let myself be ruled by internal conflict about my support of the sport of hockey in its highest level of play. Yes, I will continue to make jokes at the NHL's expense because its reputation for labor unrest certainly isn't without merit. That doesn't mean I can't look at myself in the mirror and say, "Self, you are a Red Wings fan. A RED WINGS FAN. And you will scream at them for the goals they score and the headaches they give you. And you will do what it takes to see as much of their games as you can. And you still stay up to the God-forsaken hours of the night when the games hit double and triple overtime in the playoffs. In West coast cities."
It ends here. I will be bitter about the lockout until those feelings pass on their own. I will not let them get in the way of my unabashed enjoyment of pure, unadulterated, NHL hockey.