If there's one difference I've noticed between this year's labour dispute and the loss of the 2004-05 season, it's that this time around NHL fans are being more vocal.
They've taken to Twitter, they've started petitions and they've produced videos for You Tube.
And when asked 'whose side are you on: the players or the owners?' there's a collective agreement that they're on the side of a third group: the fans and the workers directly affected by the lockout.
NHL teams have already had to lay off people. Arena staff, from ushers to concession stand workers, have lost income.
Many of them are students who are paying their way through school. Some are parents working a second job to help support their family. That doesn't even include the bars, restaurants, and sports stores that generate business on game nights or the freelance radio and television crews that are responsible for bringing the game to the fans are now struggling to find work. The list goes on
The list can go on and on and on.
Then there are the fans.You work hard all day to pay the bills. When it's time you turn on the game to cheer on your team to feel as if you are part of something that is bigger than you, even bigger than the players on the ice. It's an all encompassing fervour that unifies us, inspires us, and offers an escape from our everyday reality.
There's a dedication to a team that has been supported by family members for generations, and dedication to a sport that has created countless memorable moments that evoke tears of joy and disappointment.
In a year where we should be talking about the retirement of the great defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom, to Sidney Crosby being 100 per cent healthy, to celebrating Hockey Night In Canada's 60th birthday, we're instead left to watch as our sport, full of history and passion, is reduced to dollars and cents.
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