The NHL Lockout isn't going to end any time soon. Talks have kind of started up again, but with the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, and the month of November winding down, it's looking more and more like December's shot as well. It's frustrating for fans, for a multitude of reasons. First off, we all miss the sport and being able to live and die with the Blues. We miss seeing the momentum from last season carry on. We miss seeing T.j. Oshie throw his weight around with reckless abandon. We miss seeing David Perron dangle his way to the net, or noted water bug Andy McDonald make the opposition's defenders look like slugs.
But what that frustration has turned into for some is frustration with the league, and through that, our fandom. Some people were offended by the fact that Gary Bettman pretty much said the fans were coming back regardless of whatever happens (I agreed with him, but I was still offended). In response to that, and to the fact that fans think that no one really gives a rip about what they think, people are saying they're done. That there's ECHL, AHL, college, and all other sorts of hockey to follow; that they're fans of the sport, not of the NHL.
Personally, I'm a fan of the sport, but the reason that I'm a fan of the sport is because of the St. Louis Blues. They're where my loyalty lies, not the Peoria Rivermen, not the Evansville Icemen, not my local college team. If it weren't for the Blues -- most specifically, Brett Hull and Curtis Joseph -- I wouldn't be a hockey fan. I'd be wasting my winters pining away for the Cardinals' opening day instead of what I usually do now, which is watch my team and blog about it.
I'm upset at the league for making my hobby of writing harder, and I'm upset with all sides for depriving me of my favorite sport. But the way I look at it is this: the league is trying to maximize profits. The players are trying to maximize their paychecks. They both have a vested stake in making sure the CBA Agreement, whatever that is or whenever that will come, is in both of their best interests. Sure, the fans play into this so far as we buy the merchandise and the tickets; if we weren't fans, they wouldn't make any money. But both sides' negotiation techniques need to be in their best interests, not ours.
The NHL will bounce back from this. People will go to games, I'll still get GameCenter Live and plan a roadtrip or two to see the Blues in Nashville. The minority of fans who are done with the sport won't put a dent in those who aren't. I'm not done with the Blues, and I refuse to let a business dispute kill my enjoyment of a sport and a team that I have loved so very much since I was eight years old.
My question to you this week is this: are you done with the league and the Blues, or are you going to come back after the lockout?