Hockey fans have been deprived of NHL hockey since the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup on June 11th. September is normally a great time of year as the hockey season officially fires up again after a three month offseason and fans get to live and breathe the sport once again. Unfortunately, the deprivation will continue during the NHL Lockout and as every day passes we'll miss more and more of the annual events that we often look forward to in the hockey world. Here are a few that we'll be missing if this Lockout doesn't end soon:
Training CampsTeams would have been opening their training camps this week and we would have been bombarded with fights between no names trying to get noticed in team scrimmages. You could always count on that one veteran doing something nasty to a rookie trying to impress.
Preseason GamesThe NHL Preseason was set to start on Sunday, September 23rd, but all September preseason games have now been cancelled. With no deal in place or meeting scheduled, it's safe to say that all preseason games will soon be cancelled entirely. Preseason hockey is always a funny thing as you get some of the league's best guys playing with AHL scrubs, or in the Vancouver Canucks case, ex-NHL scrubs.
Fantasy Hockey DraftWe usually participate in multiple Yahoo! drafts in the weeks leading up to opening night, and while we have some scheduled this year, it just doesn't have the same feel as in the past. There's no excitement surrounding any of the fantasy hockey leagues and with no end of the lockout on the horizon, we're expecting many of our GMs to autopick.
NHL PremiereWhile this event was cancelled months ago because of the CBA negotiations, we had grown accustomed to watching these afternoon games a week before the regular season in North America kicked off. These games often felt like exhibition games and really inflated fantasy hockey standings for the following week if you had guys playing in the event.We already miss the whistling from European fans to show their disapproval of rough play.
Final CutsThere are always a few players trying out that get a big spotlight on them. It might be an aging veteran looking for a last crack at the NHL or a rookie attempting to make the jump from junior to the show. Arguing over the roster out of camp is always fun to do and speculating how a first-year playing will do or if he'll even make it past the 9 game mark is fuel for writers.
Opening NightOne of our favourite nights of the year as the hockey season officially kicks off (October 11th this year) and games start to mean something. Standings and stats checks are all daily routines after this date and the chirping in your fantasy hockey leagues takes on a new life.
First Saturday Night Of The Regular SeasonHockey Night In Canada and a shitload of other NHL games on the schedule is a weekly ritual for us. HNIC montages, Don Cherry ramblings, and the doubleheader will be greatly missed during a lockout. Getting together with your boys for wobbly pops on a Saturday night won't be the same without hockey on.
First Sunday Afternoon Of The Regular SeasonWaking up hungover after a Saturday of hockey and lying on your couch watching some afternoon puck is the perfect way to waste a day. No matter what teams are playing, as long as it's hockey and there's fantasy implications it's going to be a good Sunday.
These are only a handful of events that will take place in the next month, and while some are already being cancelled, we still have hope that a deal can be reached before we lose out on any more of these annual events, let alone another season.