With the potential for a National Hockey League lockout crawling closer by the day, fans across North America may need to adjust their previously planned schedules.
Philadelphia Flyers' fans, like loyalists of every team in the League, may find themselves with excessive amounts of time to fill in the near future. Here are five recommendations for them to follow if this unwanted scenario actually plays out.
Five recommendations #5: Send a message to Bryzgalov
Even though his defense needs to be solidified by whenever a revised trade deadline is set (assuming that the season does happen), general manager Paul Holmgren knows that the top item on his digital checklist is to keep 'Bryz' happy.
Ilya Bryzgalov benefits from positive reinforcement. In order to keep him in a good mood, every Flyers' fan should send him some type of positive message.
Five recommendations #4: Continue to honor the past
Nostalgia has its place in the world. Fans of all teams that haven't won the Stanley Cup in awhile don't live in the past, despite what baiting detractors scream.
Without fresh games, relieving some memorable moments is perfectly fine. The 1974 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins and the 1975 Final against the Buffalo Sabres are perfectly pleasant memories to review.
Don't most people recall beloved times that now seem as though they happened so long ago? I was talking about experiences with family and friends just then, not hockey, as everyone who isn't jaded fully understands.
Most of us feel sorry for people who have falsely convinced themselves that there is nothing valuable within their own past lives. Balanced souls rightfully appreciate the building blocks of time.
Five recommendations #3: Support your local hockey economy
Why not take a road trip to see the American Hockey League's Adirondack Phantoms? Depending upon the lockout's length, fans could also watch the Flyers' top farm team when it plays in Philadelphia.
The Trenton Titans, who are the Flyers' East Coast Hockey League affiliate, are within easy driving distance of the Wells Fargo Center. Their rival, the Reading Royals, are also located nearby and provide another exciting hockey alternative. Local college and high school programs offer other iced options, which leads us to another point.
Five recommendations #2: Attend more youth league games
I love the NHL, but there's nothing like watching your family and friends play the game. Parents understand that rooting for their guys (or girls) means so much more when the players are their own children.
Beyond supporting youth leagues to an even greater extent than in the past, why not join an adult league and play yourself? As long as health issues aren't a problem, anyone who picks up a stick will come to appreciate the game on a deeper level. Revived amateur careers are also sure to shake the fountain of youth.
Five recommendations #1: Commiserate with other great fans
Any real hockey fan appreciates a shared love of the game with others around the National Hockey League.
Let's consider the realized prayers of all Winnipeg Jets' fans. Their example is to be honored.
Many Flyers' fans would likely be part of the Toronto Maple Leafs' contingent if the Philadelphia story had never been written. Few teams can top the support that these two great franchises enjoy.
The Montreal Canadiens have been, are, and hopefully will always be one of the best organizations in hockey. Generations of fans have shown everyone how winners live.
The Chicago Blackhawks averaged the highest number of tickets sold per game (21,533) during the 2011-12 season. Like the town, their fans are tough and should be respected.
Long after Gordie Howe left 'Hockey Town', Detroit Red Wings' fans have continued to support their team for many outstanding reasons. They also stand with the best fans in all of sports.
Some may shun me for saying so, but the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans are good for the game. I'll leave it at that.
The truth is, fans of opposing hockey teams are like brothers and sisters. We fight with each other sometimes, but in the end we are all family. Hey, I once had an unexpectedly good time while sitting aside of New York Rangers' fans at a Flyers' game in Philadelphia. If that doesn't prove this theory, what does?
Overtime: Hardcore fans don't care what society says about hockey being a niche sport, they love the game and their teams.
If a lockout happens, let's hope that the League doesn't decide to sacrifice an entire season (again).
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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