So the National Hockey League has been back for a few months now and I should be jumping around with joy, but I just can’t seem to get in the spirit. Maybe it’s apathy, maybe it’s just pessimism about this ‘new’ NHL or maybe it’s because I’m just not a happy person, but the bottom line is that I find myself, along with many other fans, just not able to get back into the hockey-watching spirit I had prior to the lockout.
There is no doubt that fans were lost during the lockout, nor is there a doubt the NHL has done a lot to try and regain its fan base. I guess they figured increased scoring through smaller goalie equipment and the chance of a shootout for tied games would pull fans back in. Maybe it has in some cases, but regardless of the new rules and regulations I really can’t seem to get hyped up for the game, at least not for watching it.
I think back to two years before the lockout and how I was then. It was 2003 and things were much, much different: I was an eager high school senior waiting for graduation and for my life to start, the Governator was elected to office and the Ducks were in the race to be Stanley Cup Champions. Yeah, it was definitely a strange year.
But I remember how hyped up everyone was for the Ducks since they were on their way. I even remember going to an Angels game where the loudest cheering came from the fans when clips from one of the Ducks’ games were displayed on the stadium screen. Sure, I had great seats right behind first base, but honestly those clips were the highlight of going to the game.
I believe I watched more hockey games in that year than I had in the previous three combined. It wasn’t just because the Ducks were in the playoffs, but it was because everyone wanted them to win; even those people who were against them from the start were now supporting them. Though they lost in that seventh game against New Jersey Devils, the Ducks hype didn’t die until the next season when they fell terribly early compared to the 2003 season. But still, I sat there and watched every game I could just because I wanted to see them play.
Now let’s flash-forward to the present: I’m a third-year here at UC Irvine still confused on exactly what it is that I want to do with my life, the Governator is still in office and the Ducks are ninth in the Western Conference. Frankly, I’m way too busy and way too unmotivated by the Ducks’ current position to get back into watching hockey.
Then again, I was never a huge fan of watching sports on television in the first place. Sure, I liked to sit down occasionally and watch my favorite team fight for the championship, but that’s really the extent of it.
I’m really not one of those hardcore fans that know every player, every coach or every time someone falls into hot water because of one of those fights that everyone loves to watch. I’m more of your average fan. The type of fan that doesn’t feel compelled to watch every game and keep a constant update on the statistics. Honestly, that just seems a bit boring and I’d rather be out there playing the game.
This whole increased scoring factor also turns me away from watching the game. One of the reasons I’m against basketball is because of the high scoring in each game. For some reason, making a basket every two seconds in back-and-forth play isn’t very appealing to me, though it is to so many here at UCI. I prefer games where scoring is harder and less frequent. Games like soccer and hockey fit this category and make the value of a goal so much more than the value of making a basket.
However, there have been some good things resulting from the new NHL regulations. I finally got to witness a shootout. Yeah, I stood by and watched as those Los Angeles Kings made their way toward the Ducks’ very own J.S. Giguere and took shot after shot at him. It was heart-stopping to say the least, but I sat and watched as Giguere fell to the King’s oppression.
It’s moments like that where I get back into the hockey-fan spirit, but those moments aren’t that frequent. I guess my days of being an aspiring hardcore fan are long gone as are those of that average fan I said I was. For now, I guess I’ll just get back to the basics and start playing the game that so many fans like me have nearly forgotten.