Do you leave hockey games early? Why?

Seats are empty at an NHL hockey game between the Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks because of a winter storm that has left Nashville streets covered with ice and snow Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

You see it every night in the NHL.

The game is in its final minutes, and it’s a close one – we’re talking a one- or two-goal lead, with the possibility of overtime if someone rallies. It's only a matter of time before the goalie gets pulled and the game reaches its climax. 

There’s a stoppage in play. And … people are grabbing their coats, leaving their seats and walking down the stairs to the concourse, minutes before the game ends. 

Who are these people?

Are you these people?

I can’t speak to what happens next, because I rarely, if ever, have left my seat (as a paying customer) before the final buzzer. I assume they’re watching on a concourse monitor until the final buzzer, getting a head start on beating the traffic or catching the train or taking a squirt in an empty bathroom. Or maybe they feel like the game’s in the bag, and they just walk to their cars as the seconds tick down, catching the final score on their phones.

These people, I don’t understand. You’ve literally watched 57 minutes of a game. Is that extra 20 minutes or so stuck in the car or waiting in a crush of people for mass transit really such a boon to your existence that you can’t see this thing through? It’s like running a kickoff back and then taking a knee three yards from the end zone, muttering “that’ll do, pig.”

Of course, we all have different thresholds. The same people nodding their heads and saying “[expletive] these heathens” might be the ones hitting the bar early if the game is a blowout or, frankly, terrible.

The catalyst for this post is film reviewer Leonard Maltin. If he were a hockey fan, he’d be that guy whose been in the fan club for 30 years and has a varsity jacket covered in collectable pins – the die-hard of die hards.

But for the first time in his career, he walked out of a movie recently. It was ZOOLANDER NO. 2, and he decided life is too short:

Finally, after almost an hour, I strode out of the theater, proud of myself for taking positive action and sparing myself further insult. If there are hilarious moments in the latter half of the movie I can’t cite them for you. I can only offer an honest appraisal of what I saw. I bear no permanent grudge against anyone connected with the movie and hope they do better the next time out.

By the way, it felt good to get home earlier than usual…and I think I turned a corner. Life is too short to spend two hours in a state of total exasperation.

It got me thinking about my own threshold. No, I’m never leaving a close game – not a chance. I’m never leaving a blowout in which my team is winning, because even the most egregious victory lap is earned by years of being on the opposite end of a lopsided score.

Which brings us to scenario No. 3: Your team is getting blown out. Your team is playing like worm-infested feces – or ZOOLANDER NO. 2, as it were.

Would I leave? Man … maybe if it was really late and I had a thing in the morning, or if I weighed my personal disgust with my team’s performance with my additional disgust with throwing elbows to catch a train home.

Mostly, I think I’d stay. Just to boo them off the ice. Hell, to bring it back to movies, I once stayed to boo the kid’s name in the credits after LAST ACTION HERO because he sucked the joy out of the film and life in general.

But even then, I didn’t leave early.

What say you, puckheads? When do you leave a game early, and under what conditions? And do you ever weigh your ticket-price investment in that decision? Or does that just leave you feeling more bitter?

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.