Press Room Banter: The end of a most depressing winter

I’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

I’m inclined to agree, because about a month into the NHL lockout last October I settled down into hibernation. I stopped checking blogs for news, I stopped watching highlight reels of the KHL or the Swiss leagues, I stopped intensely missing hockey.

After all, four months is an awfully long time to go without something you love.

I’m not going to say the lockout was stupid or uncalled for. I get that both sides wanted more thumbs in the revenue pie, so to speak. I get that contract limits and a new CBA and that escrow thing are necessary evils lurking behind the curtain.

In my opinion, the stubbornness on both sides, the length of the lockout itself, was uncalled for. More than a year ago, both the NFL and the NBA knew to get their acts together in time for a sizeable season.

But hockey isn’t a normal sport. Hockey is a rarity, just underground enough to feel like the most exclusive yet comfortable club in the world.

Yet it’s for that same exact reason that hockey can draw out an already excruciating lockout. Not enough people care, and the ones who do, the ones who practically bleed onto the ice at the start of every game, are fed up.

It sucked. It sucked for me, it sucked for the fans. I’m sure it sucked for the players and the coaches and even the guys who drive the zambonis. Four months is a long time to be out of a job. It’s an even longer time to be out of a passion.

The end came suddenly in the early morning at the beginning of January. There was no rumor mill to build up hype because, well, people were sick of building up false hope.

Hockey was back and in hyperdrive, trying to cover miles of lost ground before the start of a crudely salvaged 48-game season.
Right now I’m cautiously optimistic; compared to the diehards, though, I’m ecstatic. Numerous teams across the nation have held fire sales on concessions, merchandise and tickets in order to entice the disillusioned masses.

Me, not so much. I was depressed that first week, when opening day came and went in silence. There was no drop of the puck, no thud of bodies being checked into the boards. Worst of all, there was no sound of skates cutting across ice. And anyone who’s ever watched HBO’s 24/7 knows that that is a beautiful noise, crisp yet intimate. It might be one of the best things about hockey.
But that sound is back. Hockey is back.

It’s amazing how quickly you can settle into a habit. It’s also amazing how quickly you can shed it and return to what you love. Hockey is back, and with it the names of players I’ve come to respect and love, the hope and excitement that preludes the start of any season.
I was wrong to think that I couldn’t live without hockey. Because that’s what I did for four months. But starting now, give me time to settle back into the sport I love.

I’ll bet it takes less than 21 days.

Contact Annie Gerlach at [email protected]