The unforgivable thing.
One of the most frustrating things in the world to me is that I wasn’t old enough to appreciate the NHL glory days.
I grew up idolizing Mario Lemieux, I still do, but as an adult, I can only remember the tail end of his career, the comeback that ended plagued in injury and X-Generation hockey.
Generational talents have a rare ability to draw the die-hard fan in and amaze them with more than dazzling goals and blind saucer passes that somehow end up tape-to-tape.
There is something special in having the ability to turn on the television on any random weeknight in the dead of winter and watch magic occur live on some frozen ice surface in North America.
I would give anything to just flip to a channel and re-live the 1992 Penguins season as an adult spectator. How great would it be to sit back and watch Mario Lemieux take one typical shift? Maybe he doesn’t even score, maybe it’s a 50 second battle in the neutral zone.
It doesn’t matter how routine it might be, hockey superstars have a way of hypnotizing the die-hard audience even in the most ordinary of activities.
Let’s face it, if you live and breathe this sport, there is something special in even the most routine of nights.
Even those bitter Saturday afternoon games in the Prudential Center with the Devils clogging every open lane and making each stride seem impossible are better than locked doors and concrete arena floors.
Losing the game is awful in every way.
It’s even more awful when you think of what we’re losing.
After two frustrating years of on-again, off-again injury issues, Sidney Crosby was finally coming into a season healthy.
And despite all the roster questions that might exist with this current, locked-out Penguins team, we were going to have the chance to sit back and let stars like Sidney Crosby draw us to the edge of our seats, whether that be on our couch, in a bar, or in the gold and black seats of CONSOL Energy Center.
The thing I am most angry about is being robbed of the chance to enjoy a full year of Sidney Crosby.
Like many of you, I’ll be sitting around tomorrow scouring the internet for a chance to watch Evgeni Malkin play for Metallurg as the KHL kicks off a season that will feature the aforementioned Geno playing alongside Sergei Gonchar.
Meanwhile, millionaires will be bickering with other millionaires over millions of dollars that will end up being forgotten about by the time this new CBA expires.
That isn’t the way hockey is supposed to work.
The sport itself is difficult to explain to someone who can’t grasp why we follow it so vehemently. It’s a niche sport, you either have the bug, or you don’t. It’s also not a bug that affects people casually. You jump in head first, pick up a stick in play, go skate somewhere, order NHL Network and Center Ice so you don’t miss anything. Don’t believe me? Take a stop on over to Hockey’s Future one morning after a controversial hit and tell me we aren’t all crazy about this thing. Hockey is more than an activity, it’s a thing that can be breathed in the autumn air.
Somewhere in the midst of a pile of green bills and closed doors, you can find that entire spirit of the sport.
The worst part is those in charge knows the crazy die hards will come back. Not because of them, but that is inconsequential in the face of the fact that they know the people of hockey won’t abandon the thing they love the most.
That being said, there is nothing that can replace the fact that every one of us might be robbed of the chance to see today’s great NHL super talents for one entire year. Whether that be Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, the Sedin twins, or even Zdeno Chara. The closest we might get to seeing our favorite players produce their magic through our computer screen at odd hours of the day.
I missed out on the great Mario Lemieux because I was simply too young to appreciate all the amazing things he did on a nightly basis.
I’m missing out on a year of Sidney Crosby because the facilitators of this league forgot what that mystique was about.
But we’ll remember it. The fans will have it deep inside them while we’re watching Evgeni Malkin rip shots from the point tomorrow in Magnitogorsk instead of in the hill district of Pittsburgh.