Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Few Words about the NHL & Lockout

It’s the middle of the week and a good time for me to say my thoughts on the ongoing NHL Lockout. Although this is a blog about the San Francisco Bulls ECHL hockey team, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention what is on every hockey lover’s mind.

I miss the NHL. I miss the San Jose Sharks. I miss seeing NHL games on television. I miss seeing the standings and dreaming about the Sharks being good this season. But, then I wake up and realize none of this may happen this time around.

Now, I will not get into who I think is wrong or right in the Lockout issue. I do think both sides hold enough of the blame and a responsibility to the fans to knock it off and get back to playing hockey that it makes me sad they are being so stubborn. If they love the game so much they should each give in and play.

As much as I love the Sharks, going to their games does cost me a bundle. Even the cheap seats are expensive. The least expensive seats start at $70.00 in the Upper Deck to a less popular game and go up if you want a weekend game or to a game with a rival team. Add in food, transportation costs, and it’s a very pricey evening. I lucked out getting a couple free tickets last season, but this time around, I doubt it would be the same.

Let’s talk about the time it takes for the average San Franciscan to get to HP Pavilion. Many of us do not own cars, so we’re stuck on the Drunk Train, or CalTrain as it’s more commonly known. The “Commuter Express” takes about an hour to get down there, yet the last train back north stops at every station and takes 90 minutes leaving at 10:20pm. If fans miss this train, they’re stuck in San Jose until 4:00am. Who knows how many possible attendees miss out on hockey because the hassle of getting to San Jose is too great.

With the SF Bulls arrival it opens to the doors to great hockey at amazingly affordable prices. Sure, it’s not the NHL, but the play is just as fast, just as exciting, perhaps more so. There are fewer called penalties, certainly A LOT less icings penalized I’ve noticed. The athletes are trying to make names for themselves, they don’t have gigantic contracts and aren’t too comfortable with their teams.

I continue to hear people bemoaning that “there’s no hockey!” This is wrong. There’s lots of great hockey. What they really mean is: “There’s no hockey on my TV that I can sit and watch without doing anything to support it.” If you are a fan of hockey and truly miss it, check out the Minor Leagues. The US and Canada both have great leagues. Hell, even Mexico has a hockey league! So support Minor League hockey!

I love the Sharks and will always love them. I may not always be willing to shell out a couple hundred just to go to a game, however. It doesn’t make sense to me, especially when I can spend the same amount and go to a whole season of Bulls’ games. The owners and players are pricing themselves right out of many fans’ bank accounts and they don’t get it. Their loss, I say. Now, when’s the next ECHL game?