Throughout the lockout I never once made a rash statement that I wouldn’t return when the two sides reached a deal because I knew it would be a lie. I always intended to return to the NHL despite the despair and sense of betrayal they’ve caused me. My metaphor for me and the NHL is that we’re permanently in an abusive relationship that I will never get out of. The good weighs out the bad, and despite all the heartbreak they’ve caused me I could never in a million years stop being a fan. I couldn’t tell you what the NHL could possibly do to make me decide to stop watching (and this past lockout was pretty awful).
I’ve been a hockey fan my entire life, and hockey has been something I can (almost) always count on to be there for me. Friends, family, and the like have come and gone, but hockey has always stuck around, and I’m sure many fans can admit to this. I always joke that I’m booked 82 nights a year, and even if I do miss a game, my heart’s always with my beloved Stars.
The NHL is the best hockey league in the world, and as much as I enjoy watching my hometown USHL teams, that degree of hockey is nothing compared to the level of play in the NHL. I never get tired of watching electrifying players like Ovechkin and Datsyuk work their magic or admiring the little things players do. I love the rivalries in the NHL, from the Battle of Pennsylvania to the classic Habs-Bruins fight night. And then there are the playoffs, which are an entirely different story and possibly (try definitely) my number one reason why the NHL is the best league in the universe.
How could I possibly get rid of something that makes me so happy? I Know I couldn’t, and it was never even an option for me to begin with. Never did I grapple with my decision to support a league that doesn’t seem to care for the very fans who allow it to thrive. I hate what they’ve done. I hate it so much. But leaving was never an option.
And then there’s the Stars, my beautiful, wonderful team that has so much to be excited about. Tom Gaglardi wasn’t a prime player in the negotiations and neither was out NHLPA rep, Alex Goligoski, so I’m going to let our guys off on this mess. But one thing that impressed me is the fact that no Stars employees were let go due to budget issues and some higher level execs even took pay cuts to keep it that way. They didn’t have to do that, but they did. That act of kindness makes me proud to be a fan of this team.
There are so many reasons for Stars fans in particular to return. If you’re a Stars fan who’s thinking of cutting ties with the NHL, here are two words: Jaromir Jagr. We have a bona fide legend lacing up for us, and that is awesome on so many levels. Then there are the equally awesome (though not as notable) additions of Ray Whitney, Cody Eakin, Derek Roy and the continued track to superstardom for Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson. The Stars probably won’t win the Stanley Cup, but this is going to be an exciting group to watch.
I know that I’ll be back the second the puck drops and that I’ll never leave. Yes, the league still has its issues, but…hockey.
Drop the puck already.