Tonawanda News

Columns

September 20, 2012

KEPPELER: Opportunities lost in NHL lockout

Tonawanda News — This was going to be the year.

For the past three years, the first cooler breezes of autumn have been the sign that it’s time to start looking at the preseason hockey schedule, to stake out a rare evening or afternoon when some other family or work commitment or activity isn’t already demanding our time and energy (and money). It’s become a tradition, of sorts, for either my husband or I to take our elder son to a Sabres game this time of year, a sort of parent-child-bonding ritual that we’ve maintained in the face of busy lives and increasingly hectic schedules for all of us.

Jim’s been watching hockey since he was a toddler, but he doesn’t care about preseason vs. regular season — just what’s going on on the ice and the festivities around him. The tickets are a little cheaper and the atmosphere a little more laid-back, but I daresay he pays more attention to the game then most of the adults in the arena, who are all too aware that the preseason means little and beer tastes better when hockey season starts.

Much to his disappointment, however, our very active younger son has so far been left out of this little routine. 

This year, for the first time, it was going to be different. All four of us, parents and kids alike, were ready to don our blue and gold, head out for a casual dinner and then to the First Niagara Center for that first taste of hockey. 

Finally, Sam had been judged not only mature enough to sit still for a game, but with a long enough attention span to start learning the basics: The positions, the players, even the beginnings of the strategy. His father, just a little younger then Sam is now when the Sabres were founded, knows more about the game than almost anyone I’ve ever met and cannot wait to pass that knowledge on.

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