Sadly, but not surprisingly, the NHL lockout became official Saturday. It’s the third time in Gary Bettman’s career as commissioner the NHL has locked out the players, and the second time in the past eight years.
MSF’s own Peter Stewart summarized the situation very well Sunday.
The CBA negotiations are practically at a standstill. I doubt the NHLPA will concede any time soon. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr has a history of standing firm and not giving in, and he’s done just that so far.
Some players have already signed with other leagues. As much as fans, including myself, would like to watch our favorite players play, my guess is you don’t have the money or time to fly overseas to make that happen. So here are four ways to get your hockey fill without the NHL.
1.) Go See Your Local AHL Team
I am sure minor league hockey will see a spike in attendance for as long as the NHL lockout goes on.
NHL teams have already sent some of their players down to their affiliated AHL teams, so you have a very high chance to see NHL-caliber players for nearly half the price.
If you’re a hockey fan, why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?
I’m already making plans to see some Chicago Wolves and Rockford Ice Hogs games this year. Nothing beats the talent and speed of the NHL, but there’s now way I am not getting my hockey fix this season.
2.) Go See a College Hockey Game
Another really fun alternative to the NHL is going to see some college hockey. Teams aren’t as spread out evenly (sorry West Coast) as in the AHL, but if you’re within driving distance, it’s completely worth it.
I’ve only been to two college hockey games (both Notre Dame games), but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the games both times. Most of the college venues are small, but that just adds to the college sports atmosphere, where all you hear is screams and chants from the student section.
The rules are a little different from the NHL. I wasn’t aware there is no shootout after a five-minute, 5 on 5 overtime in the regular season, so you could imagine the surprised look on my face when the Notre Dame – Michigan State game ended at a 1-1 tie, but it’s still the same, great hockey I love.
3.) Start Your Own ‘Backyard’ Hockey League
Every winter my friends and I play street hockey. We pool pour money together, usually $10-15 each, for new equipment such as goalie gear or a new net. We bring our own stick, and if we want to stay warm we wear some long pants, a cap, and gloves.
It’s some of the most fun I’ve had in my life. Not only am I playing the sport I love, but I’m playing it with people I love.
All you really need is 3 v 3, including the goalie. We’ve found out it works best with 2 forwards, 1 defenseman, and one goalie for each team. But work with what you got.
I am still young and have the time and energy to do such things, but I highly recommend that you, at whatever age, find the time to get the “guys” or “gals” together for a few games of hockey. As much fun it is to watch hockey, believe me, it’s 10x more fun to play it.
4.) Buy NHL 13
EA’s NHL 13 is the perfect antidote for the possible lost 2012-13 NHL season. Video games may not be your forte, but if they are then NHL 13 is perfect for you. I managed to play a little bit of the game the past weekend, and I absolutely loved it.
The game is a lot more realistic in the way the players move (EA calls it “True Performance Skating) and position themselves on the ice. The GM mode is spectacular. I didn’t get to play around with the GM Connected as much as I would have liked, but I did enjoy what I saw.
I do recommend you put it on the hardest difficulty though. Winning the Stanley Cup easily every year, while seemingly fun, gets old after a while.
Because of the lockout, Amazon (and other retailers) have lowered the price of NHL 13 from $60 to $50.
What other ideas do you have for hockey fans looking to get their fix during the lockout?
[Editor's note. I've got one...]