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The Vent: Six-year-old asks ‘please bring hockey back’; an immigrant’s lost dream

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.)

Meet six-year-old Mackinley. Her dad works in a mining camp for month-long stretches and is home for only two weeks at a time. When he's home, he and his daughter sit down with a big bowl of chips and watch hockey.

The lockout is robbing this little girl of her special thing with her father. She has made a Youtube video urging the league to please bring back hockey back.

"I hear you're fighting and I don't like that and fighting's not good."

Wednesday's lockout-inspired take on Percy Shelley's Ozymandias has inspired reader Hannah VanHoose to update Sylvia Plath's Ennui:

Lockouts thwart those who court Winter Classics,
designing futures where nothing will occur:
cross the Bettman's proposal and shrieking he
will still predict no All Stars for Columbus.
Jeopardy is cliché now: naïve fan
finds season tickets out-of-date and shootouts unheard
of, while blasé Ovechkins indict
long-term contracts as downright absurd.

The Fehr in Torontonian board room will never jump,
compelling PA's dull charade to crisis;
and when soporific Crosbys play Don's trump,
while bored arena crowds again look eager,
hoping toward harmony, neither pleas nor prizes
shall coax from doom's blank door accord on HRR.

Here's a moving story from Andrew, who lives in Romania, and worked three jobs to come to North America and see his first game. Instead, hockey was locked out and he found himself stranded in Pittsburgh due to Hurricane Sandy. Not the best trip:

My name is Andrew and I have a small story to share with you regarding the lockout and how it messed up one of the biggest dreams in my life. I'm from Eastern Europe (Romania) and so my original name would be Andrei. I'm in the US with work, I've worked the past 4 months and a half in a town near Pittsburgh, at first one job and then two and finally three. Why? So I could raise enough money for when I go back home but also to be able to afford tickets to several Penguins games.

I grew up watching the movies with the Mighty Ducks, not knowing there was actually a team with that name. Since 2000 (when I played NHL 2000) I became a strong fan of the Ducks and I promised myself that one day I'll attend a NHL game, no matter who's playing (well, bonus points if it were the Ducks) just to find out what an experience it would be and how does the game look in real life. Back at home, hockey used to be popular (hey, we got thrashed by the US "Miracle Team" during the 1980 Olympics, that has to count for something) but now hockey is played in only a few cities and I never got to see a live game. Yet I'm a huge fan of this sport.

I followed the Ducks using a very, very bad dial-up connection for several years, learned about their magic 2003 run from articles on NHL.com, got to see my first game live on the internet during their run in '07, supported them for years and years. The time difference is pretty big so usually Ducks games on the West Coast would mean I would have to get up at 4 or 5 in the morning to see the game before going to classes but that didn't matter, I still did it for the game. The first lock-out was a strange thing because I didn't understand why the game wasn't played and what the heck is a "cap" and "CBA", for instance.

Now I know. When I found out I'm leaving for the US near Pittsburgh I was honestly probably the happiest dude in Romania that day. I knew I would get to see a live game, the intro, the anthems, the teams coming on the ice, the game, the stars of the game, everything. I read about the potential lockout but I thought "heck, they just had one a few years ago, they're on streak now, with the new TV deal, the Winter Classic and all that, I'm sure they'll come to an understanding, it's for everyone's sake !". I picked up extra jobs and shifts so I could watch more games, I talked to a season ticked holder from work to sell me tickets, I bought my first NHL jersey, various hockey related items, everything was set. I knew I wouldn't see my beloved Ducks but hey, it would be the NHL ! Even tho I'm not really a fan of the Penguins, it would be amazing to see them in person, all those amazing players.

But days went by and I kept on eye on what was going on. The lockout seemed imminent. As bad as it looked, I thought that "Hey, we still got the pre season games, better than nothing !". They got cancelled too. And then the players started leaving for Europe, Russia and Thailand (Oduya in Thailand ?! What the .. ?). And the regular season starts getting cancelled. More and more games, Bettman talks about how this hurts but yet still no deal is struck, owners cry about the share revenue yet they are bleeding money right now (well, probably not Phoenix, they must be on profit right now) and so on and so forth.

I was supposed to leave about now but Sandy messed it all up so now I'm stranded in Pittsburgh. That wouldn't be so bad if there was some hockey on. There isn't.

So thank you Bettman. Thank you owners. Thank you for ruining my 12 year old dream of seeing a live NHL game because I don't know if I'll ever come back to America. And no, NHL games in Europe aren't the same (haven't seen one but European venues are much smaller and it's just not the same). Thanks for robbing the huge number of fans from North America and the rest of the world of a new season. Thank you. I hope your greediness will bring you down eventually.

A disgruntled immigrant,

Andrei

And finally, 27-year serviceman Garry Christman is so disgruntled even he's unclassified a rant for us:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

To say I'm disappointed in the NHL would be a massive understatement.  Let me start at the beginning.  I'm a diehard Boston Bruins fan, have been since I watched them lose to the Flyers in the Cup finals back in the 70s.  I watched them, pain filled year after pain filled year, always "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."  I remember the 2 goal lead in Montreal back in 79, the Cup battles with Edmonton in the days of Gretzky, the hope that came with Ray Bourque and Cam Neely.  I served 27 years in the U.S. Army, something that can really distract you from less important stuff like hockey.  However, you adapt and find ways to keep up.

In the Mideast, I would try to follow my Bruins on the internet, keeping up with team happenings and watching their place in the standings.  The draft in '97 brought us the hope of "Jumbo" Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov.  Again, we were to be witness to failure as the Bruins continually lost in the playoffs.  More disgrace followed with the trade of Thornton to San Jose for a bag of hockey pucks, a used goalie mask, and a 10-year old Zamboni machine to use at the practice facility.  In 2005, the Army sent me to South Korea where I truly fell in love with my Bruins again.  I found a website that allowed me to watch almost each and every game live (even though I had to watch them at 6 or 7 AM).  Hope started to rise when a new GM was announced (Peter Chiarelli) and a new coach (Dave Lewis).  Well, the new coach didn't work so well, but the new GM was just what we needed.  Around the same time, the Bruins signed Marc Savard (sorry to see him out of hockey) and "Big Z", Zdeno Chara.

The first year didn't go so well, but we did make the playoffs in the 8th spot and took the hated Habs to game 7 before losing the series.  More hope followed with the draft of guys like Lucic, Marchand, Krejci, Kessel.  By the way, thanks for wanting so much more money Phil.  Tyler looks awesome in a B's sweater and looks better each year.  Dougie Hamilton looks like he'll be a MONSTER in the back end and Jared Knight looks pretty good so far in the AHL.  The second year, we take first in the conference then lose to Carolina, game 7, overtime.  Bummer.  Next year, too painful.  Philly drops us in 7 after being down 3-0.  But then, BINGO!  Stanley Cup in 2011!  The future looks great!  Until…

Well, I got a little ahead of myself.  I retired from the Army in 2008 and moved my family to Kansas.  We live right outside Kansas City, about 4 hours west of St. Louis.  Once we moved here, I realized I had a chance to do something I've never done.  I went to my first NHL game, watching the Bruins beat St. Louis.  I watched "Looch" get into a fight.  What made it more special is that my son joined me.  Since then, we've made it a tradition to travel to St. Louis each year when the Bruins come to town.  Last year, we watched the Bruins beat St. Louis sitting right next to the ice.  It was electric.  I've never had so much fun at a sporting event.  And now this…

Thanks for taking something so special away from us Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, Jeremy Jacobs, Ed Snider, Craig Leopold, Ted Leonsis, and any other owner associated with what you try to label "fair negotiations."  Mr. Jacobs, weren't you the guy that approved those contract extensions for Seguin, Marchand and Lucic for big money and long years?  Mr. Leopold, didn't you just toss a boat load of money at Ryan Suter and Zach Parisi and NOW you want to cry foul?  Mr. Snider, nothing for you, I just hate the Flyers and those funky orange ties you wear.   Don't any of you feel morally obligated to honor contracts you've approved?  If big market teams are making money and small market teams are losing money, doesn't it make sense for you as owners to get together and devise a plan to make sure everyone is as profitable as possible?  Yes, I understand you foot the bill for charter aircraft, medical massages, and stuff like that.  Haven't you realized that to fans like me, the PLAYERS ARE THE NHL?  Without the players, YOU have no product to market.  Without the players, YOU have no jerseys to sell.  What, do you think fans will go out and buy NHL '13 for their PS3s if they have Gary Bettman's picture on the cover?   Without the players, there is NO NHL.

Gary, how does it feel to be the only commissioner in any sport to lead his league through 3 work stoppages?  I understand you work for the owners, but you're losing the PR battle big time.  The fans hate you, the players hate you, the only people that like you are the owners.  For crying out loud, you get booed when you present the Stanley Cup to the winner!

Wake up, smell the coffee, fire up the Zamboni, and get the ice ready.   If you haven't heard, the English Premier League just signed a big contract with NBC.  Soccer is getting bigger and bigger in the U.S.  Keep it up, and soon hockey will be the 5th biggest sport in the U.S.  Then you can chant "we're #5!", "we're  #5!"

A very disgruntled fan…

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