The Last Holdout

When the National Hockey League locked out its players at the start of the 2012-13 season I was annoyed. And not just because billionaire owners were having trouble coming to terms with millionaire players.

I was annoyed that they would wait until almost the beginning of the season to begin contract negotiations. These people don’t have calendars? Wih a deadline looming they made a choice not to negotiate.

When talk broke down and the owners locked out the players I lost interest in their drama. I’m not a big fan, as Canadian hockey fans go, but it was my habit to go to two or three games each season. I’d watch a few more on television. With the lockout I felt the fans had been disrespected by all sides, and I could find somewhere else to spend my entertainment dollar.IMG_20160124_160103

My friends all said I wouldn’t last, that when the lockout ended I’d be back to my old ways. That seemed to be the case for many fans – Canadian NHL teams expect sellouts and fan support that many of their American counterparts can only dream of. But, despite weekly emails from the Ottawa Senators with one deal or another, I resisted the urge to buy tickets to a hockey game. They had to make do without my cash. Until yesterday.

I haven’t give forgiven them for their past behaviour, but I did consider what seemed to be exceptional circumstances. My son was visiting; from Switzerland. When he was young we would go to games together, starting with the Pembroke Lumber Kings (when we lived in Pembroke, Ontario), and then the Senators after we moved to Ottawa (plus the occasional Lumber Kings game when they came to town).

He doesn’t get to town often, and last time it wasn’t hockey season. I thought it would be a nice treat – a late Christmas present.IMG_20160124_163000

I mentioned here last summer that I wasn’t impressed with new security measures announced for the Canadian Tire Centre (and all NHL arenas). Airport style screening, I suggested, would cause delays.

I was right. The wind chill was minus twenty, and there were people lined up outside waiting to get in. It was quicker than I expected, but I was still pulled aside for further screening. The sign said you didn’t need to put your keys on the conveyor belt. The reality says otherwise. Somehow I am always the one they have to check further. That may be why I find airports always annoying.

I enjoyed the game. Unexpectedly the Senators pulled off a convincing 3-0 win. But don’t expect me to change my mind about the situation that led to the lockout four years ago. They got my money this time, but it was a special occasion. I suspect it will be a while before they see any cash from me again.

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