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Hockey on Lock?

As many of my friends know, and if you've read some of my earlier sports pieces, I'm a huge fan of the Philadelphia Flyers. And while I'll watch pretty much any sport, the only sport I really have ever followed has been hockey. It's been that way since the 1986-1987 season, when I first saw Ron Hextall clanging his goal stick against the posts for the Philadelphia Flyers (see @ :11 of the linked video). That iconic gesture was Hextall's signature move, and watching his absolutely ferocious competitiveness and fast temper influenced me greatly in the world of sports. I loved the brand of hockey that other Flyers' fans know as "Flyers Hockey": physical, lunch-pail attitude, and aggressive worksmanship to go with prodigious talent. It's been more than 25 years since the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals that year, and more than 35 years since they last won the Cup, but the die-hard fan in me won't let up. It's funny because I've never really cared much for other Philadelphia teams, despite spending a lot of my youth in the city where my mother was born and raised, and especially when the Eagles, Phillies, and the Sixers are perennially favored in the city. I'm a hockey fan.

So this season marked the third lockout of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's legacy. It's been 20 years since he took over the league, and the fans, players, owners, sponsors, investors, and everyone else has suffered mightily under his tenure. More than 2400 games have been lost during the collective lockouts—in 1994-95, 2004-2005, in which the entire season was dusted, and for half of this season. It's caused near-irreparable harm to a league that trails by, well, leagues behind other professional North American sports in terms of marketing and television rank. The article I wrote for Fanzine describes the attrition accrued by the league during these work stoppages, the opportunities lost, league hypocrisies, and while the true fans may have suffered during the exhausting deliberations, how the NHL itself is always the biggest loser.

Permalink on this site here.

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