You can boycott NHL hockey if you want but you’ll be sacrificing something special…

Preds fans cheering recap

If you’re a hockey fan in Middle Tennessee, you’ve been caught up in this ridiculous lockout. Since September 15, the NHL and NHLPA have been embroiled in continuous posturing, lewd remarks and mud slinging. All to lose more than three months of the scheduled season only to come to an agreement in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, January 6.

In short, it was billionaires fighting millionaires. And, during a recession, that doesn’t go over very well.

Some fans are irate. Okay, most fans are irate. The franchises in Canada and the northern states will be fine. Their fans will come back to the rink and, if not, they’ll be replaced by other fans. Here in a non-traditional market like Nashville, however, the turn out may be scarce. At least at first. I talked to one prominent season ticket holder last week who said that he’s at a crossroads. He’s been through both lockouts in the past eight years and he’s “tired of being taken advantage of” by the league. But, on the other hand, he cares about the Predators, wants them to succeed and wants to continue to be part of that success.

If he is considering cancelling his season tickets, how many other fans are considering it? How many fans have already done it? And that’s not even mentioning the walk-up sales from fringe fans.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the only way fans can send a message to the league is to refrain from supporting the product. Fewer fans equals less ticket revenue. Less ticket revenue equals lower sponsorship dollars. Lower sponsorship dollars equals… well, you get the idea. And, honestly, I support you if that’s your choice. I would remind you, however, that missing games at Bridgestone Arena means you’ll be missing something else. And that something else is a lot more meaningful than some game.

The friendships.

The people you sit next to share a common bond. The friends you meet up with at the intermissions share a common bond. The Predators staff members that you see each and every night share a common bond. They all love hockey as much as you do. How many times have you gone to one of our watch parties at Brewhouse South and known no one? Yet you still manage to have a great time. It’s because there’s a common thread that transcends occupations, hobbies, passions, music, religion and politics. Do you really want to walk away from all the friends you’ve made over the years?

“I love the sport no matter what,” longtime Nashville season ticket holder Brian Binkley said. “College, AHL, NHL, whatever. But mainly, it’s the people. You sit with people at the games and you kind of grow up with them. That’s the biggest reason. It’s more of a family environment. If I walked away, I would really miss that.”

Nobody wants to support “the bad guys.” And if you go to a game at 501 Broadway, you may think you’re doing just that. But remember, there’s love there too. There’s love and passion and camaraderie from all those around you. Some who probably feel just like you do.

Stay mad at the lockout and at those who took our game from us for three needless months. Don’t forget that. But also don’t forget about your 17,113 best friends who appreciate every goal, every save and every 303 chant right along with you. Don’t come back for the players or for the owners or even for the sport. Come back for a more important reason. The friendships.

We very much hope to see you at the rink.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // section303.com

7 Comments

  1. Andy Smith

    January 7, 2013 at 10:23 am

    So True! Yes, get mad at the ‘business’ side, but remember it’s not a business for the fan- it’s a life style that includes all those great relationships you develop along the way! Give the owners and players an ear full – fine with me – but don’t give up the joy of an electric environment at Bridgestone Arena on Hockey night! That’s OUR night that we have invested so much into. Well said, Mr Gover

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  3. Darryl Johnson

    January 7, 2013 at 11:30 am

    yeah, right!! Mighty funny they didn’t think about us and our friendships when they took three months of the season from us over some BS! I think it should cost them something. I think there should be at least one free game and a whole lot of @$$ kissing from both the league and the players. I had planed to purchase a season pass this year, but am so glad I did not. I WILL NOT now until I know the sport is going to be stable and this BS will not be happening.

    Honestly, this is why I am not a sports fan at all with exception of Hockey. We put too much emphasis on athletes and allow them to get away with far more than normal people would get away with. In a normal job, everyone involved would have been FIRED and replaced. I am not sure whether or not I will be in attendance……ever.

  4. Brad Currie

    January 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Get a life. I missed it when it was gone but found other meaningful things to do. Now that the NHL is back, I will come back too. Why not? I miss the people in my section, the conversation with other friends and I miss Crispy frothing at the mouth about this and that. For anyone to not go back if they enjoy the games and the team is …. well… about as stupid as the lockout itself.

    • Kenny Gugenheim

      January 8, 2013 at 1:08 am

      Been a fan of the Predators since 06 , haven’t missed a game since , Even though the lock-out made me sick the excitement of watching the Preds skate back out on the ice at Bridgestone or wherever they start brightens the New Year …

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  6. fangfingerd

    January 8, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Hell yes I’m still mad and my verdict is still out. Waiting to see how the front office handles things that they promised us (day one tik holders) when the lockout started. They owe us lots of comp’d games now, and best not be asking us for money anytime soon. I love the game, been going to Knoxville for some redneck hockey during the lockout. sure I miss my friends at games. For me, the ball’s in the front office’s court right now.