It’s rare that sports fandom meets Internet-based fandom. But right now, when the National Hockey League lockout is closing on 90 days after talks between players and owners broke down completely Thursday night, the Internet is not only bringing everyone together, but helping them cope, too.
Though the NHL lockout is concerned with contracts, salary caps, and revenue shares, its bottom line is about fairness: how to divide the spoils while paying players fairly (both past and present), while still protecting the interests of smaller franchises, some of whom struggle to pay dividends while larger franchises rake in billions of dollars in revenue.
But if there’s one thing decidedly unfair about the 95-year-old sports league’s lockout—its fourth lockout or strike since 1992—it’s the loss of an entire season of hockey fandom. Avid fans have watched favorite players migrate to European teams or minor leagues as they ride out increasingly tense negotiations between the player’s union and the league. Meanwhile, the league has already canceled over 400 scheduled games.
“Some people I know in the biz, who really truly love this game, basically are at the point of tears now over this,” wrote a peevish Adrian Dater Friday morning for the Denver Post. “This lockout has torn some people up. People whose livelihoods depend on this game are literally in tears, their frustration just immense.”
Fans’ resentment and anger at NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and even at National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) director Donald Fehr, have grown more and more widespread as the lockout has stretched on. And inevitably, along with the frustration, the fans have grown more and more united, as they drown their sorrows—where else?—on the Web.
Here are five Internet creations to help you survive the interminable dry season off the ice. While you’re at it, marvel at the sheer determination of Canadians to keep their unofficial national sport alive.
Among the few entities to benefit from the lockout is the NHL Podium, the eye-catchingly minimalist announcement stand from which announcements about the lockout have been made. As rumors of a final agreement between parties spread early last week, #podiumwatch began trending on Twitter. After talks unexpectedly broke down completely, parody account @nhlpodium snarked in the wake of collective astonishment, “I thought that went well.”
Best lockout-related quote from this YouTube channel devoted to spoofing all things NHL: “I just miss talking about concussions.”
3) Fake Canucks Fake Season
No hockey to report on? That hasn’t stopped British Columbia media outlet The Province. Sports writer Wyatt Arndt began by reporting on his X-Box-created fantasy season in September; they’ve since added bi-weekly livestreams of games, fake news show clips segments, and even a stat board.
4) Street hockey
The fantasy hockey season may be locked out along with the real thing, but won’t stop the players from having matches. Follow them on Twitter and maybe you, too, can get the surprise Vancouver hockey fans got last week when Ryan Kesler of the Canucks called an afternoon street game in the middle of downtown:
Hundreds of fans and the media arrived en masse. “Everyone that showed up with a hockey stick had a chance to play a shift, with one dedicated to all the youngsters that showed up,” wrote Jenn Perutka. “This was the closest feeling to a hockey game in a very long time. Oh man I miss hockey, you guys …”
5) Express your anger, Canadian-style—through delightful musical numbers!
Could it be time to take your outrage to the streets, Newsies-style, Canadian fans?
Screengrab via Canucklepuck