The Vent: Locked out military NHL fans; 200 things we love about hockey

Puck Daddy

THE VENT is a forum to rants, raves, pleas and laments from hockey fans across the world about the NHL lockout. It runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If you've got a take on the lockout and need to let it out, email us at, Subject: The Vent.)

Our first rant comes from reader Timothy, a military man that's sickened by the lockout:

As a member of the US armed forces, I am greatly disappointed over the NHL's decision to pose a lockout on its players this year.  These people are fighting over a few percentage points in a revenue split that adds up way more than I make risking my life defending my country.  I'm not angry over the fact that greed has taken over intelligence in this matter. What bothers me is the potential of not having an NHL season when I return from my tour of duty in the Middle East.

Even before the lockout was imposed and became a topic of my daily life, I fully realize that this was going to already be a shorten season for me.  Furthermore, I have done accepted the fact that the first month or two of the season will be missed due to my career and inability to watch games.  What I don't like is a shorten season (if there even is one) because of revenue. This is not a game changing formula affecting how the players play, or a new division structure in which team rivalries may be gone for good. It's only about money, and money I'm willing to spend if there is hockey in time for Christmas.

The NHL doesn't realize how bad it is affecting its fan base here.  I for one will be deeply affected if there is no season.  I am already coming home to an empty apartment in which the girlfriend left with the dog, it will be winter so there is little in terms of outdoors activities to do, and the Steelers look like they are on their way to a poor football season.

So what's left? Well, as of right now it's not hockey.

So my homecoming this year after defending my country will be to sit around in a silent apartment with no interesting sports on during what is now looking like the worst time of the year.

Thank you very much NHL GMs and owners for locking out the players.  Thank you very much NHLPA for being thick headed and not starting the CBA talks earlier at the owners' request. I am left coming home to nothing but basketball. This by the way is not on my top sports list.

Our men and women in the Armed Forces are not risking their necks to come home and watch flippin' basketball. For shame, catalysts of the lockout. For shame.

Matt Painter would like to thank Gary Bettman for his lockout. Because it made him love hockey again:

Hi Mr. Bettman,

I am a lifelong hockey fan who is having a decidedly different experience with the lockout than the general fan.

I am in my 30s with a household income above 200k, likely your target demographic. I tend to spend a couple of thousand dollars a year on the NHL between tickets, jerseys and the center ice package.

With the birth of my daughter a few years ago, I have gotten fairly lazy and just enjoy hockey by watching the NHL games. With this most recent lockout, I have been forced to find other ways to get my hockey fix. I have taken the same money that I would have spent on your league and invested it in my local hockey rink, joining a rec team.  I haven't played in years and I am loving every second of it.

Your lockout has showed me that being a loyal hockey fan doesn't have to mean sitting on the couch and watching your games religiously. I am getting back into shape and growing an even deeper love for hockey. Frankly, if the NHL were not to come back at all, it wouldn't spoil hockey for me or many other fans.

I hope you are able to work something out before too many of your die hard fans find alternative hockey outlets either through local leagues or following international leagues. These are not the same times as the mid nineties or even the early 2000s, the fans and players will find other avenues in this increasingly global world.

Best of luck ...

Great stuff, Matt. And we imagine he's not alone.

Musical Interlude: Here's Hockey Sock Rock, going where only Bloge Salming has gone before, with a Gary Bettman-ized "Mama Said Lock You Out!"

Reader Jennie Ryan Luptak is pretty angry with the work stoppage, and wonders if anyone behind it remembers why we love the Game.

In fact, she's given us close to 200 reasons why we do love the game:

Does anyone remember why we love hockey? Not the NHL, not #theplayers, not #BoycottBettman — the game. I was so angry at everyone involved in the lockout that I forgot for a while.

But then I walked into a rink to catch a rec league game (because it's hockey) and it was so cold. That's a stupid observation, on the face of it — of course it's cold, it's an ice rink. But in the big, austere NHL arenas, you don't feel it like you do in the old barns. You don't get the smell of the cold or feel the slight searing in your lungs when you take a deep breath.

And then I remembered. Like a scene out of some bullshit coming-of-age movie, I remembered watching the games in high school, and the usher who let my brother and I sneak up to the glass at the Civic Arena, and the time my dad gave our spare tickets to a total stranger who was trying to take his son to his first hockey game.

Those are the reasons I love the game.

These are the reasons you love hockey. Wysh and Sean and Alyonka and Harrison and Lambert — you guys (and a bunch more) wrote these during the hockey-less summer months:

1987, 1972 Summit Series, 1981-82 O Pee Chee Hockey Cards, 1987 Canada Cup, 1987-88 New Jersey Devils, 1990-91; 1991-92, 2008-2009, 1995 Stanley Cup Championship, 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche, a clean sheet of ice, April-June 2006, Athleticism, Backyard Rinks, Beer, Blades of Steel, Bobby Orr, Bonding with dad, Broad Street Bullies, Bruins vs. Canadiens, Canada, Celebrations, Charity, Charles Schultz, Chicago Blackhawks logo, Chicago Blackhawks' red sweater, Chicago Stadium, Chicago's National anthem tradition, CIS hockey, Clark Gillies/Dave Schultz fight on national TV, Clean ice, College hockey, Cooperalls, Dad, Defensive forwards, Dome, rod, slot or whatever-you-prefer-to-call-it hockey, Don Cherry, Don't have to watch ESPN. Drinking in the glory, Dynamo Moscow.

EA Sports NHL Series, Empty-net goals, End-of-playoff series handshake, Family, Fans and players, Fathers and sons, Female hockey bloggers, Fighting, Five minutes for fighting, Fresh ice, Frozen ponds, Game 4, 1992 Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Goalie masks. Growing up with the game, Gump Worsely, Habit, "Here Come the Hawks", Hersheypark Arena, Hockey as the red-headed step child of the sports world, Hockey blogosphere, Hockey books, Hockey cards, Hockey fans and hockey rivalries, Hockey gives life a purpose during the winter, Hockey hair, Hockey history, Hockey holidays, Hockey in HD, Hockey in South Florida, Hockey jerseys, Hockey movies, Hockey Night in Canada, Hockey people, "The Hockey Show", Hockey sweaters, Hockey video games, Homer announcers, Hoser, How the players hone their skills, How the players interact with fans.

I'm Canadian, Ice girls, International hockey, Jersey collecting, Jerseys, John Davidson, Lake Placid, Line combinations, Locker room antics, Maple Leaf Gardens, Mario Lemieux, Max Talbot, Memorial Cup Final, Mike Lange, Minor league hockey, Miracles, Moms and sisters who love hockey, Mr. Hockey, My brothers, Nassau Coliseum, National anthems, NHL 94, Nicknames, Not being part of a hoard, Passion, Patrick Roy, People who can't see the puck, Playing pond hockey, Playoff hockey , Pure athleticism and coordination, Rink burgers, Rivalries, Road trips, Roch Carriere's "The Hockey Sweater", Rod Phillips.

Sean Burke v. Mark LaForest, Section 326/Row 12/Seat 11, Seeing your team win the ultimate prize, Shot blocking, Singing the Canadian national anthem, Skating, Skating with the Winnipeg Jets, "Slap Shot", Snoopy's (Redwood Empire Ice Arena), Society for International Hockey Research, Sons and fathers, Stick tapping, Street hockey, Sudden-death overtime, Terry O'Reilly, That old garage door, The arena experience, The breakthrough, The brotherhood, The camaraderie, The community, The fans, The feeling you get when you step out onto a fresh sheet of ice, The good kind of "Ting!", The Hartford Whalers, The hat trick, The hate, The heart, The hockey code, The human story, The ice surface, The Indian-head sweater, The Islanders' four Stanley Cups, The Jets/Oilers rivalry, The Kamloops Blazers and junior hockey, The Mario vs. Gretzky argument, The Miracle on Ice, The Moments, The New York Islanders, The New York Rangers, The NHL 2K Franchise, The old Adams Division, The one-timer, The pace and drama.

The Patrick Division, The penalty kill, The people you meet, The personalities, The players , The puckhead passion, The roller coaster of "oo's" and "aahs", The San Jose Sharks, The short-handed goal, The sights and sounds, The simultaneous bench pop-up, The sounds of the game, The speed of the game, The Stanley Cup, The Summit Series, The trade deadline, The truth, The underdog status, The uniqueness of the sport, The videogames, The voices, The Winnipeg Jets, the Minnesota North Stars, Quebec Nordiques and, Hartford Whalers, The Wives Room, The world of hockey, Tie Domi knocking out Ulf Samuelson, Tournaments, Tradition, Trash talk, Twitter, UC Davis Ice Hockey, Wendel Clark punched Marty McSorley in the face, Winning the Stanley Cup, Zambonis …

A lot of those are NHL-specific, but a lot more aren't — family, fathers and sons, fresh ice, frozen ponds.

The hate. The heart.

I'm not saying don't be mad. Be mad as hell, especially if Alfredsson and Selanne hang them up before one last go-around. Be mad that owners are handing out $98 million contracts while crying poor. Be mad that fans can exert no real pressure on the NHL or the players' association, that we can't end the lockout.

Just don't be so mad that you forget to go skate.

Can't believe she left out Jack O'Lantern smiles, the Golden Seals and Bruce Boudreau's cheeks. Inexcusable! (But seriously, great list.)

Finally, here's a perfect representation of the NHLPA's difficulties in trying to rally fans, using a 2-year-old eating pizza:

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