The last several months have not been an easy time for people, like me, whose livelihood depends on the sport of professional hockey.
The costs of the NHL lockout, which began Sept. 15 when the league and its players could not reach an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement, have been both measurable (financial) and immeasurable (stress). But in my family there has been added concern because of what the NHL means to us. Oversimplified, it is the glue that holds our family together. It is the one common interest that binds us.
Ryan has been a trooper throughout, substituting a new-found love of football for hockey, but deep down both Veronica and I feared what would happen when the NFL season ends if there was no hockey.
So it was with great joy, and no small sense of irony, that I shared a wonderful moment with Ryan Sunday morning. The NHL and its players reached a tentative agreement to end the lockout just before 5 a.m. on Sunday, and both Ryan and I were up to learn the news firsthand.
We were scrambling to get out of the house and get to — where else — his hockey game when the first reports flashed across Twitter, which I was following religiously for days. “Deal is done.” “Season saved.” “NHL and players agree.” “Lockout over.”
As these reports filled my timeline I took deep breath and exhaled. I looked at Ryan.
“Ryan, I have something to tell you,” I said. “They got a deal. There will be an NHL season.”
“YESSSSSSSS!” he yelled in barely-controlled volume.
Already late, I hustled him into the car and off to the rink to watch him play. We talked about when the season might start and why it had taken so long. But there was no bitterness from Ryan, only joy as he let go of the thing that has been hanging over him since September.
In recent weeks, as the NHL’s declared “drop-dead” date to save the season approached, Ryan asked me if there would be a season with increasing frequency. Never a fan of non-direct answers, he was frustrated with my repeated answer of “I think so, but I don’t know for sure.”
That was met, as always, by the response, “But what if there’s not?”
For that one, I had no answer. I just hoped it wouldn’t come to pass.
Sunday morning, getting ready to watch my son play hockey at an ungodly hour, we learned, simultaneously, that it would not.
Game on. Drop the puck.
- NHL Lockout: Twitter Explodes with Reported Return of Hockey (bleacherreport.com)
- NHL Lockout: Players’ Union, League Reach Deal To Restart Hockey Season (huffingtonpost.com)
- Hockey fans rejoice in NHL agreement (wwlp.com)