So far, the 2012 NHL Lockout has cost fans 232 games (97 preseason games and 135 regular-season games). To make matters worse it seems that commissioner Gary Bettman and the player’s association are worlds apart. The best we fans can hope for is a partial season that won’t jeopardize games like the Winter Classic.
However, hockey fans can still get their fix until a deal is reached between the NHL and the NHLPA. Here are five ways that you watch hockey while the 2012 NHL lockout looms on:
5. Bikini Hockey League
There’s already Lingerie Football and Bikini Basketball, so why not have a Bikini Hockey League? While not played on ice, it’s roller hockey, why would any red-blooded Hockey fan not want to watch beautiful bikini-clad women body-checking each other?
4. NCAA Hockey
If you reside in the Northeast or Midwest, then you should head to a nearby university and check out some NCAA hockey. These college kids have skills, and let’s not forget about some great rivalries. Students from schools like Boston College and Minnesota go on to be solid pro players.
If you need further proof on how good NCAA players can be, just remember it was college kids that made up the famous 1980 USA team that beat the USSR.
3. Canadian Junior Leagues
Since hockey is a national pastime in Canada, why wouldn’t you check out some hockey from our neighbors in the Great White North? Particularly some of the junior hockey leagues in Canada that are a breeding ground for future NHL stars.
For example, there is the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The “Q” is known for it’s offensive prowess. The league was also the starting point for Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, and Patrick Roy, as well as current superstars like Sidney Crosby. There’s also the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). The OHL has also produced it’s fair share of talent, like Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros, and John Tavares.
2. American Hockey League (AHL)
The AHL is a professional hockey league that has been around since 1936. During the 2010-11 season all of the 30 teams became affiliates to NHL teams. So, besides checking out a pro-hockey team, you may also be able to spot a future NHL standout.
1. European Hockey
Just like the lockouts in 1994-95 and 2004-5, players during the 2012 lockout are heading across the Atlantic to play for teams in Europe. There are plenty of famous and legendary organizations that will happily accept NHL players.
For example, there is the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia, Elitserien (Swedish Elite League “SEL”), Finland’s SM-liiga, the Czech Extraliga (Tipsport Extraliga), Slovak Extraliga (Tipsport Extraliga), and the National League A (NLA) in Switzerland.
The New York Times created a solid, yet simple, guide on the different leagues in Europe, which you should check out. Most of these leagues feature some of the greatest players in the world, whether they have played, or will play someday, in the NHL. Either way, it’s a win-win for hockey fans. Great hockey matches and you may be able to still watch your favorite NHL players.