by April Conway, Staff Writer
It was the best feeling in the world when the New Jersey Devils, the state’s professional hockey team, won the conference championship last year. Not only did the Devil’s defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in the quarterfinals, they also defeated their long-time rivals the New York Rangers, the current Atlantic division champions, in the semifinals.
The Devil’s then lost the Stanley Cup to the Los Angeles Kings, but I digress.
The point is there was hockey last year, and I fear that it may be a while before I see my favorite team out on the ice.
Cedar Crest does not have a hockey team, and though the hockey fans are far and few on-campus, I must admit that some of my best memories here were watching hockey games with my friends … even if they were Flyers fans.
“Not many students on campus watch hockey,” said Kaitlin Oswald, a senior majoring in Psychology and Neuroscience. “But it is always refreshing to find a new hockey fan, and even better if they are a Flyers fan.”
And I was hoping that this year would be no different, except that it is.
The National Hockey League is in a lockout.
The 2012 lockout began on Sept. 15, less than a month before the official start of the season, after an agreement about official contracts could not be reached between the owners of the teams, and their players. This dispute has yet to be resolved.
Carly Athanasatos, a junior majoring in Social Work, has not been a fan as long as her family members, but loves the sport just the same. A supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers, she is both upset and disappointed with the lockout.
“I really just wish that they would just come to a consensus. It should be about the game, not the money” Athanasatos said.
Oswald agrees, but for a different reason. With this being the third lock-out in almost 20 years, the first in the 1994-95 season and the second in the 2004-05 season, the sport is losing a fan-base that it has been working so hard to create.
“It is so unfortunate for all of the NHL fans. It is frustrating that after all of this time they still haven’t come to an agreement. It seemed like the NHL was finally gaining popularity and momentum since the last lockout. It is only going to hurt the league if they continue the lockout” said Oswald.
With almost a third of the season gone, and two of its major events canceled (the Winter Classic and the All-Star Weekend) there seems little hope left for the still dedicated fans.
“I am rather upset about the lockout,” Annie Pulcini, a former Cedar Crest graduate and Pittsburgh Penguin fan said. “I understand why they are doing it, but they are going to lose a lot of fan base especially if they don’t have a season. It’s rather disappointing that it has been almost two months with no hockey and the Winter Classic and All Star game being cancelled too.”
Players are feeling the heat as well. With no NHL season in sight many players are signing contracts around the globe, with countries such as Russia and leagues throughout Europe, or they are dropping down in the American Hockey League (AHL) … which is basically the minor league of hockey.
But fans, like Oswald, do not seem to mind these changes.
“I think it’s important that the players are getting ice time during the lockout,” she said “and it gives fans an opportunity to see their favorite players.”
Athanasatos is turning to a more local source of the sport. She supports little league and local high school teams, and though her schedule is hectic she tries to catch the games as often as she can.
Being the busy college student that I am, I have not been able to make it to any local college games, and the stress of it all is starting to get to me.
Seriously Santa, if you can deliver all of the presents to all of the children in the world in one night, there has to be enough room in that bag for the NHL.
I will provide the rope if necessary.