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The Vent: Protesting the lockout by cheering harder for the Leafs, partying

THE VENT is a forum for 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 puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com, Subject: The Vent.)

Wouldn't it have been nice if this feature came to an end today? It was a nice thought, but it didn't, so here are some thoughts that aren't quite as nice.

Ryan F. won't sit idly by and do nothing. He's got a brand-new protest: he will only watch Toronto Maple Leafs from here on out. It's kind of like a hunger strike, but with more suffering, I guess.

I'll keep this short. So here we are once again. The NHL season is supposed to be underway but alas it is not. You know, the last couple of weeks fans like me have been told how we can stop this lockout. I've seen people and even hockey media suggest I unfollow the NHL/NHLPA on social media sites, stop buying tickets/merchandise or even stop being a hockey fan altogether. I'm not going to do any of those things. I am not naive enough to think that I could have any effect on ending this lockout. I am going to do something though, not from pressure but simply based on what I feel.

You know the old saying "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me." I was willing to let the last lockout slide because I was told it was necessary to fix the systemic problems with the league. I bought that and boy was I dead wrong. How else would we be back here once again? I live in Toronto where like so many people I live and breathe the Maple Leafs. My father is a Leafs fan and my grandfather was too. I watch every game on TV that I am capable of viewing and through winning and losing (mostly losing), I support them. I try and get out to a couple games a year at the ACC but usually I cannot afford tickets. Remember in the last lockout when you claimed we would have lower ticket prices under a new agreement? Again, you won't fool me twice.

Look, I'm always going to be a Leafs fan until the day I die. I will continue to watch every Leafs game I can whether they return in 2012, 2013 or 2014. But here's what I will not do. I will not be watching other NHL games. I won't be watching Calgary vs. Edmonton or Detroit vs. St Louis. I'm done with that. Instead I'll be watching the NFL, MLB, NBA and heck even the AHL. This is not a threat or a form of protest. This is simply the reality of taking your fans for granted. It doesn't matter how big or small your role is in this. Whether you are Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr, Sidney Crosby or Shawn Thornton you have reduced a former NHL fan into just a Leafs fan. Stop posturing and negotiate like civilized people who have influence over the lives of so many who are hurt not only emotionally but financially but this lockout. You know them right? They are the broadcasters, writers, bars, mascots and concession workers. I believe there are a lot of people who share my sentiment and that's not good for anyone. Time to grow up and do what is right. Drop the puck.

Angela H. also cooked up a unique way to protest the lockout. A party.

To mourn the loss of opening night, some of my hockey friends and I had a F#%k the Lockout Party this past weekend. Beer, nachos, classic Bruins games on the TV, and A LOT of bitching.

My amazingly talented friend Stephanie brought over this cake, and I just had to share it.  It pretty much says it all!

Pro-tip: If your protest involves cake, you're protesting the right way.

And finally, Nicole H. wants to do something, but she doesn't know what to do but share with us her despair:

I first fell in love during the summer of 2003 while paying a visit to my Midwestern relatives. I had lived my whole life (to that point) unaware I was related to die hard hockey fans. Then I sat down to watch a playoff game with my Pépère, and found myself instantly hooked.

I picked up right where I left off the following season, determined to learn all I could. Having just moved to the DC area I became a Caps fan (which, given my timing, was both a show of incredible dedication and stupidity). I have bled black and bronze/red, white, and blue ever since. I count down the days till prospect camp, then rookie camp, then training camp. Between the league and third party ticket sites I pay huge mark ups to see the occasional game on my teacher's salary (if only I would take the player's advice and just get a better paying job). I came back after the first lockout, even though I had barely had any time to invest myself in the sport. But this time is different.

I can't say I am giving up forever- that would be ridiculous. And I am still a hockey fan- I bought AHL Live in anticipation of the worst to get me through the winter. But my heart just doesn't feel in it for the NHL right now.

My husband tells me I'm nuts and maybe I'll feel different the moment the improbable actually happens. But for now all I want to do is stick it to the NHL and NHLPA. But how? I'm thinking "opening night" boycott. Wouldn't that be nice to see the fans say "screw you, we'll come back when WE are good and ready". But alas, hockey fans are well dressed crack heads. So I will be left with the ability to do little more than sit in the corner like a petulant child till I feel like I've made my point. That always works out well...

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