Of course I'll be back at the MTS Centre when the NHL returns. But I'll won't fully re-invest myself in 2013. - Marianne Helm
My status as a die-hard NHL fan is in peril, and I will take the entire year of 2013 to re-evaluate where the league and I stand.
2013 is nearly upon us, and it's time to come up with a New Year's Resolution for the coming year. For as long as I can remember, I've tried to honor this tradition by picking something to adjust in my life, and they've been for the most part typical and boring selections. Lose weight. Hit the gym and get in shape. Drink less. Do a renovation around the house. You know, the cookie-cutter resolutions that everyone chooses that usually last three or four weeks before I settle back into my 'old' way of life that does none of the above.
I have come to the conclusion that the reason why the above resolutions rarely make it into February is because I never became fully invested in them. Everyone says they could lose a little weight, but it's cold here in Winnipeg in January so the extra insulation is nice. Drink less? It's easy to say, but nearly impossible to put into practice. Besides, I heart beer. Any of the above resolutions were just something nice to say without truly meaning it.
But I think I've come up with one for next year that I can follow through with, because I really mean it and I'm emotionally invested in seeing it through.
I, Ryan Blight, do solemnly swear that I will care less about the NHL than I ever have for the entire year of 2013.
This lockout has left me angry and frustrated, and I absolutely despise both sides of this labor war (though I'm more angry with the players and Don Fehr at the moment). And with the recent NHL offer looking to be a step in the right direction that could lead to a 48-or-52-game season beginning in mid-to-late January, I refuse to revert to the status quo where I was prior to this ridiculous debacle of a work stoppage.
One of my original thoughts was to engage in some sort of boycott of the NHL and its products, but that is nearly impossible for a Jets season-ticket holder here in Winnipeg. Being part of a group of nine that share five season tickets, the fact that we signed on for a minimum of three years makes it kind of tough to give up our tickets. And with a waiting list 8,000-strong dying to get tickets, I don't think they'd miss my butt in the seats very much. And I'm not going to partake in a 'beer-strike' at games or anything silly like that, because as I said above, I heart beer. So what can I do to as a jaded fan to stick it to Gary Bettman, Don Fehr, the owners and the players?
I will care less.
I'll still go to the games. I'll probably cheer when the Jets score a goal, and maybe even get a little riled up if/when they make the playoffs if/when those occur. But I won't show up to the MTS Centre in my jersey. I won't wear my Jets-licensed hat, toque or scarf, or wear anything with a player's name on it. I won't purchase any league merchandise at all. I won't spend hours a week watching highlights or perusing stats. I won't follow any players or teams on Twitter. I won't watch numerous games per week that don't involve the Jets on television, even if they give me the Center Ice Package for free. I will sell numerous tickets to games that I don't care to see (looking at you, Florida Panthers) instead of planning my weeks around attending every game of a home-stand. I'll blog for AIH not as a die-hard fan, but as a jaded consumer (and fanboy-hack), and my opinion will reflect my disdain for both the players and owners for this lockout. If you thought I disliked Ron Hainsey last year, well, in the immortal words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive... "You ain't seen nothing yet!"
I will do all of the above from January 1st until December 31st, 2013.
And what will happen in one year from today? Well, that depends on how the NHL treats me and my fellow fans once this charade ends. If they really mean to apologize to the fans and go above and beyond to do so, then they will get my attention. Lowered ticket prices, specials on food/drink and merchandise at the arenas and other attempted perks would certainly help. But a simple "Thank You Fans" will not suffice. For the next year, I will be leery of returning to my old ways of die-hard fandom, as I just can't forgive and forget what the NHL and the NHLPA have done. Not this time.
So the ball is in your court, Gary and Don. I will show up to the MTS Centre whenever the lockout ends, because I have tickets and still enjoy watching the game of hockey. But I will take the next year to re-evaluate where I stand as a die-hard fan of the NHL, and your 365-day trial begins tomorrow. You'd better impress me. While I may be only one person, I have a feeling that I am not the only one who feels the way I do. And if die-hard fans are willing to detach themselves from the league, will the lockout have been truly worth it?