Since the first open letter to Gary Bettman from Victoria C. was such a huge hit with my readers, I decided to post another. This time it's from Andrea G…
Dear Commissioner Bettman,
I'm a New York Rangers season ticket holder. I was so excited about their Spring run that I decided I'd write a book about following them this season. It's called "DIE-HARD: A dying fan's year of NHL hockey." You see, I'm living with stage four stomach cancer, so I'm not sure if I'll expire before Brad Richards' contract does. In the last 18 months, seeing hockey live with 18,200 close friends has been an honest-to-God life-affirming way to spend many of my evenings. Now I'm going to have to write on the LOSS of the pro game. Ugh.
Hockey runs deep in my blood. My father was a Bruins season ticket holder. When we moved to New York when I was ten, I picked up on the local kids' sports allegiances. He said to me "Well, at least you're Original Six." Even he could understand my infatuation with Jean Ratelle and the GAG Line. Of course, the Bruins were Bobby Orr's beasts back then and he must've thought my fandom was misguided.
I've taught my niece and nephew about the game and they've learned to love it too. Josh is a stat-head who plays fantasy hockey and thus knows more about the Western Conference than I do! Nina doesn't watch as much because since she was four, she's played organized hockey and would rather be on the ice. It's my pleasure to report that she's a Connecticut State High School hockey champ. As a third-liner, she'll never be elite, but it doesn't matter to her (or me.) She loves the teamwork, the comraderie, the rush up ice, the ref signaling a goal for her senior scorers, the handshakes after each contest.
And I know how she feels. After the game, I'll rush to hop on the uptown C to be home in time to watch the post-game interviews. Yep, the NHL employs the best athletes in the world. And there's nothing better than a glimpse into a winning lockerroom. And I NEED John Tortorella in my life!
We fans are going to miss all of that: The thrill and tension of the game, its speed, its rare hipchecks, the goal songs, the fans' chants, the players' personalities, even the stale popcorn leftover from the Knicks' previous game.
This is not to elicit sympathy. I'm 52 and have enjoyed the life I've wanted. Josh and I attended this year's Winter Classic in Philly. I've been the volunteer art director for Ice Hockey in Harlem for over a decade. I attended the Cup parade on June 17, 1994. I love this town so much that when I was laid off from on top of a prominent magazine's masthead in 2008, I got my license to be a tour guide. It's an enormous paycut, but it adds to my quality of life. When I'm on that big red bus passing MSG, I talk about the glories of the hometown team and enjoy being razzed by the Canadians on board.
Like many fans, I live a rich well-rounded life, but hockey is a HUGE part of it. Tonight, I'm heading to Hartford with other NYR diehards to cheer on Chris Kreider and welcome Jeff Beukeboom back into the NYR family. Tomorrow morning, Nina has a game I'll attend. Oh, I'll find hockey. And I'll enjoy it.
But tonight I'm going to miss seeing the Kings' banner go up, with my team in attendance. We'd be SO inspired by that. And Quick vs Lundqvist? WHAT a match-up!
So, I don't know what more to say. Get a deal done, I guess. Like soon. My doctors have verified that I bleed blue. But now I'm blue for a terrible reason.
Please bring back the game we love too much.
…how the owners can continue with this CBA fiasco after reading a letter like this is beyond me.