September 30, 2020

BY MARK FITZGERALD
The shortened NHL season is well underway, and it has shown me one thing is certain about hockey fans – some will never be truly happy.
For months we have been angry with the owners and the players because they were not giving us the games “we deserve.” Eventually they came to a deal and we got “our” hockey back. You would think hockey fans would rejoice and dance in the streets.
I wish that were the case.
Instead, some fans were still angry and wanted more from the owners and players than just games. They demanded discounts on ticket prices and lower costs at the concessions at the games. Those would be nice, but we don’t deserve them.
We boo and jeer the players because they are a bit rusty. The first few games were filled with weak passes, players falling over and sub-par goaltending. And we made sure that they knew we weren’t pleased.
I am guilty of mocking the players as well, but I have come to a realization.
Most of these players have been waiting around to play hockey for the past few months. Hockey is in their blood. When they can’t play, it’s like having an itch you can’t scratch because someone is pinning your arms back.
We need to give these guys a break. They are rusty, but they will soon be at the top of their game. We will soon have the high-quality hockey back on our televisions and in our arenas. We just need to be patient.
Imagine how you would feel if you went into your job after being out of work for a few months and had everyone staring at you all day and having every single one of your decisions criticized and mocked directly to your face. I don’t think many of us would last very long before we would end up in a corner holding our knees, gently rocking back and forth with tears cascading down at an uncontrollable rate.
It is true that these players are supposed to be professionals. But they are also people.
As fans, we demand so much and expect that all our needs will be met. It doesn’t seem fair that the players should be at our beck and call if we continue to criticize them when they have been sitting on the bench waiting to play the game they love for months.
Some people say that they always need to perform at the top of their game because they get paid millions of dollars to play a game. I agree that they should definitely work hard for their paycheque, but give them some time. They will earn it. We will see those break-neck-speed slapshots, sprawling goalie saves and jaw-dropping breakaway highlights, and when we do, they will have earned their millions.
Give the players a few weeks. Let them find their legs. They will bring us what we want.