Monday, October 29, 2012

I hate what the NHL has done to me.

     I hate that when I sit down to write about Hockey it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I hate that sometimes when I compose a comment, post, tweet etc... I get so frustrated and angry that I simply walk away so I don't spew bitterness all over everyone else. I hate that I'm writing this post instead of something exciting about the Red Wings. I wish I were writing a post about how Jonas Gustavsson was proving to be a great acquisition from Toronto, or how Brendan Smith was showing great improvement from last year, or how having Gustav Nyquist on the first line with Datsyuk gave me a warm tingle feeling every game (hey I can dream). I wish I were writing a post outlining all the reasons why Henrik Zetterberg was the perfect choice for Captain, or even bidding a bittersweet farewell to Tomas Holmstrom, who served this team so diligently and selflessly for 16 years. I wish I were writing a post welcoming back Patrick Eaves and saying how wonderful it was to see his smiling face back on the ice and seeing how excited he gets when his team scores. I'm not writing about any of those things that would make me happy, and every day that goes by and the situation doesn't change, I get a little more apathetic towards it all. I still care, the fact that I'm writing about how much I hate the situation is proof that I still care. But if this drags on and on, and we lose the season, the Winter Classic and a year of watching the players and game we love, will I reach the point where I don't care about the NHL anymore? I've talked quite a bit about this topic with different people over the last few weeks and the more I talk about it and express my frustration and sadness, the more I realize just how much I've cared and invested of myself into Hockey, the NHL and the Wings.

This is what it feels like I've been doing.

     When something that means so much to you is suddenly withheld and you can't do anything to get it back, you're forced to re-evaluate things. I want to make it clear that my love of Hockey hasn't changed, my love of Hockey continues to grow, despite the NHL's attempt to kill our Hockey loving souls one bull shit filled statement at a time. I started playing Hockey in April and playing the game I love so much has allowed me to grow to love the game on a deeper, more intimate level than only watching on TV ever could. A friend asked me teasingly if I was cheating on the Wings because I was watching the Griffins, my response surprised me a little bit.

"No. The Wings walked away from me, they decided we weren't going to spend any time together and they were gong to look for fulfillment elsewhere. If that's the way they want to be, then I'm not going to spend any more time sitting around feeling sorry for myself and wishing they'd come back. If/when they decide to come back, then we'll evaluate our relationship and see where we stand. As for right now, I'm going to spend my time and energy on people and things that are more important and who value me more."
     Really? That's it? "We'll re evaluate our relationship and see where we stand"? There was no groveling, no air of desperation, just a somewhat apathetic evaluation. Even as I write this there are reports that then NHL is expected to announce the cancellation of the Winter Classic on Thursday. Do you know what my reaction was? Eh, it was just a matter of time. I'm an optimistic realist and I'm usually the one encouraging people to look on the bright side and not give up. Maybe it's the realist in me, or maybe it's my self defense systems raising shields to mitigate damages, but I don't care as much as I used to... or at least I don't think I do right now.

Does this image really need any further explanation?

     As much as my give a damn level is sinking, I still know that when we eventually have NHL Hockey again, and I have the opportunity to watch my beloved Red Wings, I'll be right there glued to my TV drooling and overdosing on the Hockey I've been craving and missing for far too long. I suspect however, that when once the NHL does come back, it will be bittersweet. Sure I'll be right there watching the Hockey I've been yearning for, but there will still be that twinge of pain and betrayal where the knife was. I'll probably eventually get over, but I'll never forget this. I suspect it will be one of those things that you hide under rug in the closet and don't think about; until one day when you need the box of glass eyes you keep in said closet (hey I don't judge you by what you keep in YOUR closet). Then all of a sudden it jumps up at you and makes you scream like a little girl (I'm talking pig tails here) and you remember for a horrifying moment what the lockout was like.

I'm never going in that closet again, guess it's time to get the patch back out.
     I'm getting pretty tired of writing posts like these instead of the happy kind I mentioned above, and I'd bet my pet space monkey that you're getting pretty tired of reading them as well. Sometimes I read through the articles and thoughts of the day and am disappointed that most of them are negative, bad news, or the same regurgitated  news we've been hearing and talking about since the Playoffs ended (D'oh). But then I remember that there isn't a whole lot of other Hockey things to talk about and most of our options are pretty depressing at this point. But there's something therapeutic about venting, about letting out the anger, frustration, sarcasm, snark and hurt; especially among friends who understand exactly what you're going through because they're in the same boat as you are. Sure the life boat it a bit crowded, and someone's feet somehow end up in your face when you wake up in the morning, and you have to fight back the reflex to gag everyone someone gets seasick.

The Lochout Monster is no laughing matter.

     I think the venting helps up cope, so I think until the lockout ends, we have NHL Hockey again and the sting fades a little, I'm going to embrace this new form of venting and I encourage you to do the same. Go ahead if you haven't already, it can feel oh so good.This lockout won't crush our Hockey spirits, most of us won't emerge unscathed, and sadly many who love Hockey and the NHL will leave and never return, and that truly makes me sad. But the love of Hockey will live on in us, no matter how badly the NHL screws up. We'll continue to play Hockey, love the game, watch at other levels, and for those people who posses enough knowledge and experience, maybe even help others appreciate, love and learn the game that means so much to us. Please don't lose heart Hockey fans, Hockey doesn't live and die with the NHL. Hockey lives on in each of us. We will take it with us wherever we go and spread the passion and Hockey culture.

     Most days are an emotional Hockey roller coaster. I go from disappointed, to frustrated, to angry, to apathetic, to hopeful, to thinking about all the great people I've met because of Hockey and the meaningful friendships that have come from it. When I think about those things, I'm reminded that there are more important things in life and I achieve a sort of zen about the whole thing. I know that this place I'm at in my life is exactly where I'm supposed to be. Regardless of what the NHL does or doesn't do, life will go on and all the great things and people in my life that I have because of Hockey will still be there and I will continue to hold them dear and enjoy them.

Long live Hockey!

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