Here are five fall plans that Philadelphia Flyers Fans are following during the National Hockey League Lockout.
Lockout plan #5: Follow those AHL boys
The American Hockey League has always served as a fine hockey venue. My own roots in the game were formed through trips to see the Hershey Bears play. Due to the lockout, there are a variety of NHL players filling the rosters of AHL teams.
If the Flyers' AHL affiliate had moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Glens Falls, New York in the old days it would be difficult to follow the team. Doing so would likely have been accomplished through static-filled AM radio reception, or by reading yesterday's hockey box scores that newspapers decided to print.
These days, the internet allows clear access to Adirondack Phantoms' games. So, we can follow Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and the rest of Terry Murray's ice boys though this modern method.
Of course, the NHL Network is a great televised resource that enables access to plenty of classic contests. There are also many websites that enable real-time access to a variety of European Leagues where an increasing number of our NHL stars are playing.
Lockout plan #4: Review the old days
Many fans have old videotapes, or newer DVD's, of ancient hockey games. Now is the time to pull out your recording of the 1973-74 Stanley Cup Final Series against the Boston Bruins, or the 1974-75 Final against the Buffalo Sabres. Certainly, there are online video sites that also offer glimpses of the past as well.
Many detractors say (sometimes rightly) that Flyers' fans reference the 1970s too often. I say that we are simply traveling back to our glory days in an attempt to channel (and hopefully transfer) positive vibes from those "Bullie" years.
Unless you intentionally plan to scare the daylights out of your children on Halloween, it's best to keep some other footage out of sight. The 1976 Stanley Cup tape features an incredible Montreal Canadiens' team. For some reason a 1980 Stanley Cup VHS tape is partially damaged. Apparently those images end with Pete Peeters' surrendering a Game 6 Cup-winning overtime goal to New York Islanders' Bob Nystrom.
Both of those rectangular-shaped horror classics should be kept in the attic. Better yet, sell them online to the highest bidders and keep the cash for future Flyers' tickets.
Lockout plan #3: Take a hockey detour when visiting the Wells Fargo Center
If you go to see a non-hockey event this fall at the Wells Fargo Center, don't forget to look at the great Flyers' history that is on display on the first level. Sure, you've seen it all before. But, take your time and really embrace the Flyers' Hall of Fame items. There's also plenty of other franchise history displayed on the walls, inside glass cases and through interactive video displays that will deeply satisfy your senses.
Lockout plan #2: Play the game
The best memories that I have about hockey are connected to my Dad and I playing the game on a Sunday afternoon. We would switch Bernie Parent roles while going one-on-one.
I also played with my cousins and friends on weeknights and weekends, on Friday afternoons after school with my sixth grade classmates and our teacher in the gym and in an organized league throughout junior high and high school.
Gather old, or new, friends and play in a pickup league right now. Take the kids and your spouse, or a significant other, and hit the driveway for a makeshift game.
Renewing your physical connection with a stick and a puck will do wonders for your hockey soul. It's great exercise, fun and a reminder of just how challenging the sport will always be.
Lockout plan #1: Pray, persist and contemplate
I offer this advice to those who are religious, to those who are not and to the Agnostic.
Flyers' loyalists who believe in God should ask him to inspire the team owners with a few lightning bolts (non-Tampa Bay style). Also ask him to brighten the minds of the players, so that they can use their free will to direct their union.
I ask all orange and black non-believers to send the real-life hockey gods (Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr) a stream of social media messages. Try to use whatever open-minded logic you can to get these two deities to reach an agreement.
To every Agnostic Flyers' supporter, I ask that you contemplate a world without hockey. After realizing that soccer might eventually invade our sports' temples, I think that you will know what to do without me offering any advice.
Not taking yourself too seriously
Every hockey fan knows that this isn't the time to be fighting with our natural rivals. Fans of the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and even the New York (eventually Brooklyn) Islanders are sitting in the same rink with Flyers' loyalists at the moment.
We all know that whenever the NHL opens for business again most of us will happily return to our own arenas. That's also when our temporary truce ends.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He was a freelance sports writer for five years in the 1990s and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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