Week 17 of the NFL season is the final one for 20 teams, many which are some of the top American markets in the National Hockey League. Those cities being Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and New York just to name a few.
For some of us, we can stomach the NBA. Others like myself will take college hoops over the pros any day. If professional hockey is your fix to get through the cold, dead of winter, you're hurting now or will be very soon.
The NHL has already cancelled the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor and all games through January 14th. The two sides are scheduled to start talking again this week, hoping to find some light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
So your NFL team has closed up shop for the 2012 season. What now?
Well, have you considered these options?
First suggestion. Just because the pros aren't playing doesn't mean that hockey is nowhere to be found. Take in some college hockey games. If you have a junior league or minor league team nearby, make a trip out of it with your other hockey deprived friends.
If you live in the Pittsburgh area, maybe you were at Consol Energy Center for the Three Rivers Classic that featured local team Robert Morris taking down heavy favorite Miami (OH) in a 1-0 victory.
West Virginia is wild and wonderful, and Wheeling has a minor league club in the Nailers. Make a weekend to go gamble and then catch a hockey game. Don't blame me if you have a gambling problem. The helpline number is all over the casinos and their ads.
If all else fails, go to some high school hockey games. Unless you have a kid playing, you will come off as the weird person who hangs around the local ice rink. But desperate times call for desperate measures.
Second suggestion. Invest time into a hobby or television show. From mid-October to mid-June, hockey occupies our evening hours.
Hobbies like stamp collecting and model building are things of the past thanks to computers and video games. Best suggestion would be to take advantage of your franchise in NHL 13 if you're that desperate to fill your time. Take advantage of that time to stick with your New Years resolution. Spend more time at the gym, write that novel, and maybe get a head start on your taxes.
Or invest your time into a couple of TV shows you usually record or catch up with on Netflix. American Horror Story: Asylum has sucked me in. Following How I Met Your Mother has become a little easier with Monday evenings opened up. I need to start watching Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. They both have come highly recommended from friends and co-workers.
Third suggestion. Spend more time with your family. OK, now I lost all of you. You are all coming down from a family overdose from the holidays, I know that. But hey, take advantage of it. If you're a parent, your kids grow up pretty fast. Sure going to hockey games is a great bonding experience, but take the time to do some other things.
After reading suggestion number three, you have to be hoping that the owners and players come to an agreement soon. Just hang in there and find ways to invest your free time wisely until another lockout can possibly come to an end.