by Melissa Allen, Caps fan and season ticket holder, special to District Sports Page
An Open Letter to Gary Bettman and the NHL
A lockout doesn’t just mean locking out players from a paycheck. You’re locking out the fans. You’re locking out friendships. You’re locking out hopes and dreams. You’re locking out unfinished business.
You’re locking out new opportunities. You’re locking out charities. You’re locking out unforgettable moments. You’re locking out trust. You’re locking out history (which won’t be made). You’re locking out a game in which rivals are banding together to protect. You’re locking out the players because you don’t think the current collective bargaining agreement is fair.
You know what’s not fair? It’s not fair that I work my ass off as a teacher and have to live paycheck by paycheck. It’s not fair that I live 135 miles from my favorite team, and have to drive 2 1/2 hours to attend 42 hockey games every year, but I still manage to make it — that’s six hours in one night 42 times a year.
I make it work. I do it because I care. I do it because I love the city in which my favorite team plays for. I do it because I appreciate and support the players, on and off the ice. I do it for the friendships I have made over the years and the ones to be made. I do it for the playful rivalries, and the not so playful ones. I do it for that feeling you get in your chest when your favorite player gets a breakaway and scores the GWG. I do it for shots blocked. I do it for hard hits. I do it for beautiful saucer passes. I do it for flashy glove saves.
I do it for the game that started outside. I do it for the one dream that every fan and every player share. I do it for the color red. I do it for Game 7 overtime winners. I do it for paralyzing shoot out goals. I do it for pride and the will to win. I do it for the unity that every fan has, no matter which team they cheer for.
We all cheer for hockey, and for that reason alone, we are a family. So I’m sorry that your millions aren’t good enough for you. So sorry that you do it for the money; more in a day than most see in a year, some in a lifetime. So sorry you are going to lockout the one true passion that I share with hundreds of thousands of hockey fans, and the thousands of boys that grew up to live out their dream of playing in the NHL. I’m sure I don’t understand the details of your reasons and agreements which led to your decisions. I know that it’s a business — with players, paychecks, sticks, pucks, nets, refs, fans, coaches, ice, arenas, fights, and a scoreboard. Those are things that you see with your eyes.
Hockey wasn’t meant to be seen that way. Hockey was meant to be viewed and felt with your heart.
Hockey is love.
Hockey is courage.
Hockey is faith.
Hockey is friendships.
Hockey is hope.
Hockey is desire.
Hockey is success.
Hockey is truth.
Hockey is inspiration.
Hockey is happiness.
Hockey is dreams.
Hockey is perseverance.
Hockey is determination.
Hockey is pride.
Hockey is belief.
Hockey is passion.
Hockey is family…
It’s a family with a voice. We are, and always will remain, louder. No matter if you choose to hear us or not, we will proudly stand by the players and the NHLPA. The diverse players and fans have joined forces to be part of a team — one team — far much greater than anything you can ever imagine. We are one and we will fight together. Together we can.
My favorite team didn’t get a re-do in the playoffs. You shouldn’t be allowed to have one either.
Forever faithful to the sport of hockey,