Well, it’s official: the NHL cancelled regular season games today. The news didn’t really come as a surprise. Preseason games have already been thrown out and the two sides can barely be in the same building together, much less talk to each other at the negotiating table.
The waiting game is a hard one to play, but there is a way to keep your mind occupied while the NHLPA and the owners try to get something worked out. Earlier in the offseason, Brennan Barry wrote up a list of things to do. Not only is there humor, but there’s a whole lot of truth to the list too.
Number seven in particular is something Blackhawks fans should really look into doing. Rockford isn’t that far away for those who are in the Chicagoland area. And even though the Wolves are the minor league affiliate for the Vancouver Canucks, nobody said you have to root for Chicago.
The list of players on the Icehogs roster is full of guys who not only have experience in the NHL, but have played postseason games with the Blackhawks. Sure, it won’t be like watching the All-Stars and Olympians Chicago fans are used to, but at least it’s hockey.
There are players like Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk who are playing for teams in Russia while their NHL teams cross their fingers and hope nothing serious happens to them. Sending players down to the minors when don’t have to go through waivers is a no-brainer. That way they can keep an eye on their players and if any injuries occur, at least it’s while they are within the organization.
Rockford will have a fun team to watch. Just glancing at their roster, there are a dozen players who at least would have had a shot at making the big league club in camp if not already have a spot locked up. And the Icehogs aren’t the only team with that type of roster. The Charlotte Checkers, for example, will have Jared Staal (younger brother of Carolina Hurricanes teammates, Eric and Jordan) as well as 2010-11 NHL rookie of the year, Jeff Skinner.
The team I’m looking forward to watching most, though, is the Oklahoma City Barons, Edmonton’s affiliate. Last year’s number one pick, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, will suit up for OKC as well as Jordan Eberle and highly touted rookie free agent, Justin Schultz. Most of the rosters will have a handful of players that played for an NHL team last year or recent draft picks that would have been on the brink of making the big league club.
Checking the ticket prices on the Wolves’ website, fans can get in for as little as $11. You can even get a spot on the glass, which I’m pretty sure is Justyna Gluch’s favorite spot in an arena to watch a game, for under $60. The Wolves open their season next weekend with back-to-back home games against, you guessed it, Rockford. It may not cure the NHL blues every fan has, but it’s better than nothing at all… right?
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