Parents tie up skates before a game at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre Sunday.
Tony and Adams PartiesCocktail Parties, Birthday Parties, Receptions and Showers...click here and book your party at TnA's today!Click Here
John McCuaig is used to having kids come into his store asking for a Sydney Crosby jersey.
The owner of Overtime Sports and Collectables, hockey is about 85 per cent of his business, but not this year. Instead, kids were looking for an RGIII jersey or LeBron James. And he thinks it all has to do with the NHL lockout, which came to a tentative end Sunday morning after a marathon 16-hour meeting. A die-hard fan, McCuaig said it was a little heartbreaking watching kids reach for another sport over the past 100 or so days.
“I find it sad that it went on this long,” McCuaig said. “We saw this situation already in 2004. I hope I never see it again.”
The biggest disappointment for McCuaig though is what it did to the average fan. Any given Sunday, you could find around a dozen hockey fans in the back of his Arthur Street Marketplace shop arguing over the lockout. The best part about hockey is supposed to be people getting together to talk about the game itself.
“It’s the little kids, the grandfather who wants to teach his grandson to be a Montreal fan. Those are the situations that are great about hockey, families can get together and either argue or have fun,” he said.
McCuaig said he’s just glad the lockout is over so people can get back to the game. But as a life-long Flyers fan, he is frustrated with the whole lockout in general.
“If they do it again I’m not watching Philadelphia play hockey that’s it, I’m done but hopefully they don’t and we move on,” he said.
Still, he’s happy.
“I needed something to watch and so does everybody else,” he laughed.
Over at the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre coach Mike Gautier was just about to watch his team hit the ice. He echoed McCuaig.
“I think it’s fantastic. We’ve been bored all winter,” he said.
One good thing about the lockout was how much more time kids spent outside on the rinks. But he did see their interests drift to other things.
“The interest I believe left for the year and hopefully it’ll come back,” he said.
Inside the dressing room, young players were giving McCuaig and Gautier hope that all was not lost. Brooke Herman said she has been praying for the NHL to return. It’s been horrible not being able to see her Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s awesome, I can’t wait. I wish there was hockey for the whole season but even this is awesome,” she said.
Goalie Mya Gowanlock said she’s been really upset not being able to follow her favourite player Eric Staal through the season. She also loves to watch the game to get some tips.
“I really like to watch the goalies to see what I can learn and improve on. I think it’s really amazing and I love it how they’re coming back,” she said.
Owners and players still need to ratify the deal.
Click here to submit a letter to the editor.