NHL Happy Hour is back! It is back with some awesome news. The NHL has ended the lockout and we will see some ice f***ing hockey this year!! Yeah, it is not going to be a full season and yeah its possible that some of the teams that will get into the playoffs can be considered lucky, and yeah the Stanley Cup Champion may come with a giant asterisk, but screw all of that negativity. I get to drink vodka and watch hockey again and that is one of best things about 2013 already. Let us not forget that 2012 ended very terribly.
2012 finished off with awful, awful events. I will not go too deep in rehashing the wounds that have greatly impacted thousands of lives across the east coast and the terrible losses from Hurricane Sandy. I personally lost a brand new car that I bought just 6 months ago and my basement was destroyed with smelly seawater. Even then I feel lucky as I know that many of my New York and New Jersey neighbors lost so much more. That was of course followed up with the unspeakable tragedy in Connecticut, which I really don’t want to say too much about other than I feel for the victims and their families as it is truly an awful event. Needless to say as the end of the year approached, I joined many in wanting 2012 to mercifully end, and to turn the page so hopefully we could all have a better 2013.
Now the return of NHL hockey doesn’t replace what was lost. We all know that, but at the same time sports can be a great distraction for all of us. Watching a great sporting event allows us to escape the problems of our everyday lives for a few hours and be entertained as we pour our emotions into cheering on our favorite team. For people whose favorite sport is hockey, the loss of the NHL has taken away that distraction, and that release valve. As 2012 ended the prospect of getting that distraction and our relief looked bleak for hockey fans. The lockout was dragging on, the NHL and NHLPA could not agree on anything, and many started to fear that the season would be lost just like 2004-05.
Then it finally happened. The sides agreed in the middle of the night. I awoke yesterday to learn that the lockout is over and we will see some NHL hockey this year. This post is to celebrate all the boozing we will be doing. There have been many posts about how the NHL Lockout is hurting the beer sales in Canada and it all makes sense. But what I really want to focus on is that the NHL Lockout ending will not only help the “struggling” beer companies, but the local restaurants and bars and how you can do your part.
The reason I bring this up, and why it is a subject dear to me, is because of this column that I do here called NHL Happy Hour and where I have been doing it from. About 90% of all of the NHL Happy Hour articles have been laced with a drink or many more than two, from one of my favorite bars. I would visit it and order me a few drinks, while I take out my laptop and hammer away some nonsense about drinking and hockey. The best part of this whole thing is that I had a legitimate excuse to drink. It was a great gig really, drinking and writing about hockey, two of my favorite things. So when was the last time I went to my bar to drink and write about hockey or watch a game? Well it has been about two or three months.
This brings me to addressing the big issue that most “die hard” fans are contemplating right now. How do I “protest” the NHL without sacrificing on watching the games I love to watch. Well, the best way is to visit your local bars and watch games there. Find your favorite bar or try a new one for game nights and have a few beers/appetizers there with some friends. The atmosphere at local game spots is just as wild as you find at the actual game and with instant replays, many TV’s, and the fact that more than one game is on at the same time, you are really not sacrificing anything at all (I know nothing beats going to an actual game, but play along). You and your friends could be having a good time with some shot bets and beer chugging challenges. Fun all around.
Now, think about the impact that you will have on the small business community and your own pocket? The fact is that if you go to a game at most arenas you are spending 60-100 dollars minimum per person. Considering that most arenas are not exactly next to your house forcing you to add travel costs. The overall amount of money you drop on each game night will round about 100 dollars no matter how you slice and dice it. The amount of drinks you could have at a bar for that amount is insane. An average bar bill at a local spot, with game night specials and those triple stacked nachos, will probably run you 40-60 dollars. That will not only help you save some dough but will boost up the profits of your local pub, who usually already run on a thin line of income.
This will also directly take away from the “Greedy” owners pockets as you will not be buying any tickets or beer at their stadium. Remember all that mumbo jumbo about profit sharing and splitting it 50/50 or whatever the lockout was about? Well, they won’t have anything of yours to split, because you simply will not be there to give them your hard earned dollar-dollar bills. Owners and players will see the direct impact of the so called business decision of using a lockout as a bargaining chip to decide on how they will split our money. Do not be afraid about having the league losing money and only causing more problems for the league. If the sales drop, the owners bottom line will see some red and that will lead to smaller salaries for the players, but both parties will learn a lesson. Now, some will yell that I am naive and all of this is wishful thinking, and I agree.
I am naive and this is all wishful thinking, but I will be going back to my bar more often in 2013 and will not be visiting any arena this year. No matter how much I want to, I will not be buying any “Ice Hockey TV” packages nor will my household see any new NHL merchandise coming into this house. I will be spending my hard earn money in places I respect and establishments that treat me, the consumer, with respect.
Drink and spend your money responsibly, and welcome back hockey!
Feel free to follow me on twitter @lastwordonNHL and be sure to join Ben Kerr and I on Wednesday Nights at 10:00pm when we host the hockey radio show, “Puckheads”, on the Last Word Radio Network. You can listen in live or to our past podcasts by clicking here, or by searching for us on iTunes.