Calgary Flames announced their schedule in the end of June and like most fans I frantically went to check to see what games I could see them play live. However, unlike most fans, I’ve been limited to their trip out east. Two games I can see them. February 5th and 7th. That’s it. Any where else and I have to book a hotel room and minimum wage does not pay enough for road trips. And normally I don’t mind this two games a season is enough to sate my needs but this season has me on edge.
If the CBA agreement talks go on past the start of the season, well what will that do for the schedule? The possibility of no season is always there, but it’s not the only option. If there is a season, the schedule will be severely altered. Games will be cut, and the first to go will be road trips that do not affect the Conference standings. Meaning the Calgary Flames will not make their rounds to New York and New Jersey. As a fan, losing out on games is a terrible thing. Lockouts may hurt the owners pockets, create a void in sports coverage, and force players to look for work else where, but the fans are hurt the most.
We pour our money into these teams: buying gear, sweaters, tee shirts, products players endorse, season tickets, food and drinks at the game, all of this to rally around a group of guys out on the ice playing a kid’s game. As a fan, I love the sport, I’ll sit down and watch any level of hockey and find enjoyment out of it. Obviously my first choice is the NHL, but as the CBA talks drag on, I can’t help but get antsy if I’ve been spending my money supporting the wrong league. A partial lockout in 1994/1995, a full lockout less than a decade ago, are we really going to sit back and wait around for the NHL to get it together again?
Unlike a few years ago, there’s options. Blogs and internet streams have opened up the world to leagues other than the NHL. It’s easier to track the junior leagues now, even Fansided NHL has Frozen Futures, and outside of North America has hockey a plenty. Take a look around. You can find streams for the KHL, DEL, Women’s/Swedish/Czech/Finnish/etc leagues that are just a click away. The NHL has the elite players, but if there’s a lockout, you’ll see a lot of them heading else where to play the game they love. As fans, we can too now.
I live and die for the Calgary Flames, but my love of hockey is the bigger picture. You can’t deny me my hockey. I’ll find a way, but the question is how much more can the NHL alienate their fans before some of them get pushed away for good? If you love hockey, the NHL isn’t the only league out there any more. We’ve options as fans.
So what’s it going to be NHL? Will I be cheering on my Calgary Flames or will I be brushing up on my German to catch a few DEL games?