At this point of the year, I would have already attended at least one NYR pre-season game with Mrs. Hat, Hat Jr., and be looking for home opener tickets.
But as I’m sure you’re all quite aware, that is going to be impossible now.
I used to live out in Vegas once upon a time, and the closest organized professional hockey was the Vegas ECHL team; The Wranglers (their games were amazingly fun to attend) or a road trip to Phoenix or LA for Coyotes or Kings/Rangers games.
These days I’m lucky enough to be able to live right in Manhattan. Luckier still to live not more than 8 blocks away from Madison Square Garden and hey, that’s where the Rangers play!
We literally moved so that we would be closer to the Rangers.
In any case, fall is my favorite time of the year especially in the city of Manhattan. Leaves start to change color and the weather gets cooler. Jackets and hoodies start coming out and soon enough, hockey jerseys would also start to make their first appearances.
I would start to see Rangers jerseys in small smatterings here and there in the beginning, then as the season wore on it would get more and more commonplace to see Rangers jerseys scattered all over the city.
Modell’s and other sports stores will start putting hockey displays in their windows and I would start noticing people with Rangers gear on walking around the city (yes, they exist in the city) and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside while wanting to scream “LET’S GO RANGERS!” at the top of my lungs at the same time.
But this year?
Not this year.
This year sucks.
This year is super depressing.
It’s super depressing to walk past a Modell’s and to see nothing but football. So I go inside and all but two racks of hockey merchandise is stashed in the bottom floor in the far back corner where there’s a mom tourist rifling through the rack looking for a cheap t-shirt to buy as a souvenir or a gift for someone else.
I saw a guy on the bus wearing a Rangers hat the last week and wanted to give him a hug.
It takes all the life and fun out of living right here in Manhattan.
Hockey already takes a back-back-backseat to all the other teams and sports in the area that when there’s a lockout, it’s almost as if someone went and erased or deleted every single instance or evidence that a hockey team exists in this city.
It’s not a good feeling, it leaves you feeling empty inside. It makes you feel like hockey is a made-up word for a made-up sport that you and your friends invented one day in your backyard in middle school just to pass the time.
And then when you go out to a bar, or anywhere for that matter, you notice that there’s no one around to talk hockey with. No one around to talk about the pre-season, the prospects, who’s going to make it out of camp, how the Rangers are going to do this year, just… nothing at all.
It’s just an empty feeling, and it is the worst feeling in the world.
It makes Manhattan feel even bigger than what I’m accustomed to, because I know that there’s a void in this city that hockey needs to fill. Without hockey, to me, *ESPECIALLY* this time of year, Manhattan just feels empty. The start of fall is usually a joyous occasion for me because it usually signifies that hockey season is right around the corner. Records are wiped clean, clocks are reset and our team is undefeated.
But no, not this year.
This year we are still stuck on Game 6, 2011-2012 playoffs and standings are still up on NHL’s website and it won’t go away until everyone comes to an agreement and the lockout ends.
But that’s not the worst part.
The worst part is that no one knows when it’s going to end. No one has any idea when it *COULD* end. It could take away our entire 2012-2013 season, or it could be solved by next week. No one has *ANY* idea. So in the meantime, we’re all left to flounder about, tread water and keep our head just high enough so that we can survive and last through this horrible, horrible hockey purgatory that’s been inflicted upon us all.
We can watch hockey still. It might not be NHL-level hockey, but it is professional hockey nonetheless.
At Puck Daddy, they have an article/list of AHL/ECHL/NCAA/organized hockey that you can attend all across the US.
– Trenton, NJ hosts the ECHL team, the Trenton Titans, about 1.5 hours away from central Manhattan.
– Hartford, CT hosts the NYR farm team, The Whale, about 2.5 hours away from central Manhattan.
Here is a list of hockey markets by geography and the AHL/ECHL teams that are close by: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/hockey-options-fans-nhl-markets-183400086–nhl.html
I myself will be attending the Whale’s home opener on October 12th against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. And I know I’m not alone. A good amount of Rangers fans plan on attending and being at the game. Not to mention tickets are $12 each, beers are $2, hot dogs are $1 and you get to chuck a puck on the ice if you so desire.
Infinitely cheaper than going to MSG.
Hockey isn’t entirely dead. We just have to look a little harder to find it now. If there is local organized hockey going on in your area, please go, watch, attend, spend some money on the little guy and you’ll be having some fun regardless.
I would love to meet anyone that is going to be at the Whale’s home opener. Since it will be my first time attending a Whale game, I will be in the company of the lovely @erin_face and her significant other @terrrrrible. They will be my guides for this game and for the surrounding area of Hartford.
I will tweet out seat/section locations, maybe a pre-game location somewhere and I hope some of you will come hang out.
Nothing is going to ruin, or stop me from going to go watch hockey.
Find The Broadway Hat on Twitter: @TheBroadwayHat