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It is tough enough being a hockey fan in the state of Kansas; it is even tougher when there is not any hockey to watch. I can think of only a handful of people I know from Kansas who watch hockey and let alone even pay attention to it. With my mothers side of the family from Detroit, hockey runs through my veins. They are all die-hard Red Wings fans and all five of my cousins have played competitive hockey. Every winter break when we visit I watch the Wings with my grandpa, this past visit we did not get to watch because of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) lockout.
For the second time in eight seasons there has been a lockout. Recently the two sides, the NHL and the Players Association, reached an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and started playing again on Saturday. After thinking there would be no play this came as a very pleasant surprise. The season will be condensed into 48 games making for better competition much like after the NBA lockout last year. The agreement between the two sides settled the 113-day dispute over the new CBA. One of the big reasons for the lockout was deciding what to do with the extra billion dollars that has been made in revenue of late. Both players and owners wanted to get their fair share, but a compromise could not be reached in time for the season to begin. After the long and drawn out negotiation they made compromises in a new salary cap, contract length and ways in which money is spent and distributed.
A big part of the blame for the lockout falls on commissioner Gary Bettman, who my grandpa blatantly calls an idiot. Many people share this frustration since he has had three lockouts on his watch in his 20 years in the position. Also trying to expand the league into non-traditional hockey markets such as Phoenix and Florida has not done him any favors in traditional fans minds. Even though he has grown the game leaps and bounds in his time, it is unacceptable to have three of the four lockouts in history happen under him.
While I kept myself busy watching football and basketball during the stoppage in play, many players went to play overseas in countries all over Europe. Now, with hockey returning and football on its last game the segway is perfect to switch my fandom from one to the other. If I can catch the Wings play a couple times a week I will be perfectly content. The start of this new season not only gives me my hockey fix, but it will keep me closer to my Michigan family by letting me give my grandpa a call and discuss the game or shooting a cousin a text after a win. While basketball is my true love in sports, hockey is close up there and I can not wait to really get into the season.