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Goodbye NHL, I'm moving on

October 20, 2012
By SUMMER WALLACE-MINGER , Weirton Daily Times

Saying you hate something is a strong statement. Hate says vendetta. Hate says blood feud. Hate says schadenfreude and serious business. It implies you've been deeply wronged.

I've been deeply wronged.

I'm an old woman and have few pleasures. One of them is watching grown men skate full-tilt into one another. The prospects of a hockey season continue to dwindle amid a pointless public relations war between owners and players.

Dear NHL and NHLPA, in case you didn't notice - it's possible you didn't - you aren't running for prom queen. We're not voting on who we like best. There's no tiara in this for you. No flowers. No sash with "queen" emblazoned across your chest so there's no mistaking who's most popular. John Cusack isn't holding a boombox, playing "In Your Eyes," while you sob, "you like me! You really, really like me!"

Not going to happen.

You know what is happening? The fans are becoming disgruntled. There's a lot to be upset about - children are starving in third world countries despite the fact we produce enough food to feed everyone in the world - and being upset over whether billionaires pay millionaires to play a game is silly in light of that, but it's happening.

There have been several lockouts in recent memory - Gary, there's a special place in hell for people who preside over three or more labor stoppages; it's in the fourth circle - but the fans keep coming back. We can't blame the NHL and NHLPA for thinking we'll be around when they finish their slap-fighting and hair-pulling.

However, the NHL may not be queen bee for much longer. The Kontinental Hockey League is counting coup - signing stars and a contract with ESPN. ESPN! - where a hockey player has to simultaneously score a hattrick, save a baby and adopt a puppy to make "SportsCenter." Sure, it's ESPN3, but the NHL can't even make "The Ocho."

Evgeni Malkin is playing hockey, while Sidney Crosby is staring at a wall. (I feel bad for him, then I remember Sports Chek pays him a bizarre amount to be awkward in commercials. Sports Chek, I'm way more awkward. Put me on skates; if I survive from one end of the rink to the other, it'll go viral.)

Fans are pointing fingers. Some want replacement players, so desperate for hockey they'll pay NHL prices for an AHL product. It's the owners' fault; it's the players' fault; everyone's greedy; raze the league and start over. It's almost enough to make you miss the halcyon innocence of Crosby versus Ovechkin debates. Almost.

I'm not playing Jon Cryer to your Molly Ringwald, NHL. I'm done. The KHL has hockey, I'm dancing with them, not hoping you'll get it together and see how perfect your fans are for you.

Because the only thing I hate more than a lockout is allowing myself to be held hostage by one.

(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at

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