There's only so much football you can watch.
You may also be an NHL fan who can tolerate the NBA, in which case you're watching your share of basketball as well.
But there's no way to get around the NHL lockout. You may bray about how much you hate Gary Bettman and the "stupid" owners or you may come down against the "greedy" players.
But you know you'll never give up hockey no matter what they do to the game and you miss the game so much that it hurts.
You need the game and you'll take it in any form you can get it.
Even in word form.
Turn off the television and go to the library or bookstore. There are many memorable hockey books that will bring you at least a taste of what you are missing so badly.
Here's a look at 15 essential NHL books that you can read during the lockout that will at least give you a small taste of the hockey that you have been craving since the lockout began Sept. 15.
The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade The League And Changed The Game Forever
If you are going to start reading about the NHL, the last thing you want to read about is the life of the commissioner who has instigated three lockouts during his tenure. But this book by McLean's writer Jonathan Gatehouse will give you more detail about Bettman and a greater understanding of his psyche and his being. It will help you understand why he has imposed this lockout and help you realize what the NHLPA is dealing with.
1972: The Summit Series: The Untold Story
The great series between the Soviet Union's hockey team and Team Canada has been retold many times. It's one of the sport's pivotal moments and it holds up in nearly every incantation. However, in this book by Richard J. Bendell you get far more details and behind-the-scenes action than you get in standard magazine articles and television features.
Searching For Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr is to hockey what Babe Ruth is to baseball. He is the greatest player of all time and while his on-ice exploits are legendary, Orr is a private person who has not exploited his talent to become a public god. Journalist Stephen Brunt gives you as much of a look at Orr, the man, as he does Orr, the hockey legend.
Stanley Cup: 120 Years of Hockey Supremacy
Just the ideal book for anyone who loves the game and its history. In addition to reliving all of the great playoff seasons, author Eric Zweig gives you the personal views of dozens of stars as they relive their most memorable games.
The Boys of Winter
This is the definitive story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Like the 1972 Summit Series, the 1980 U.S. hockey gold medal has been the subject of many television specials, articles and books. However, Wayne Coffey's book may be the best version and is one that every hockey fan would appreciate.
Maurice Richard: Reluctant Hero
The explosive Richard was the best player on the greatest dynasty in NHL history. His explosiveness on the ice and his goal-scoring instincts made him the dominant player every time he stepped on the ice. This coffee table book by Chris Goyens and Frank Orr tells his remarkable story and has many images that hockey fans may not be familiar with.
My Greatest Day
If you are going through hockey withdrawals and you are a hockey-loving meatball fan, you will love this book. Author Scott Morrison takes a look at the greatest moments from the hockey careers of 50 hockey notables and gives it to you from their perspective. The book offers insight from many of the best and brightest in the game's history.
This book by former Sports Illustrated writer Jack Falla is as memorable and beautiful as its enchanting cover. On it you see a beautiful frozen body of water with a lone skater who has a stick and and a puck. This romantic image is matched by Falla's eye-opening writing.
Saving Face: The Art and History of the Goalie Mask
This book by Jim Hynes and Gary Smith is devoted to the mystery and beauty of the goalie mask. There are more than 150 goalie mask images, along with the stories of the artists who paint them and the goalies who wear them. All hail Gerry Cheevers, who started goalie mask art with the "stitches" he pained on his mask during his stellar run with the Boston Bruins.
Gretzky To Lemieux
This is the story of the 1987 Canada Cup. The title, of course, is based on the stellar series-winning play that involved the two best players of their generation. Journalist Ed Willes tells the story of this scintillating tournament in award-winning fashion.
Veteran hockey writer Bob McKenzie has perhaps the best connections of any journalist covering the game. However, this book is not about the ins and outs of the NHL. It is about a dad who has been thoroughly involved with his kids' youth careers. It is memorable and insightful.
There's something about Stephen Brunt that makes anything he has written about hockey worth reading. In this book, he takes a look at the trade of Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. Brunt's examination is thorough, compelling and a must-read for all hockey fans.
The Art of Scouting
Scouting is the lifeblood of any NHL team. If you are going to have a consistently productive team on the ice and make the playoffs nearly every season, you need expert scouting. Shane Malloy takes a look at how scouts go about their business, find talented players and project how those players will perform once they reach the top.
The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory
When the Montreal Canadiens reached their 100-year anniversary in 2008, there were a slew of books, articles and television specials. However, if you can get your hands on author D'arcy Jenish's splendidly researched volume, don't hesitate to buy it. Whether you love the Canadiens or you have been tortured by them over the years (as any Boston Bruins fan has been), they are the most significant franchise in the NHL and this book tells their story better than any other.
Shooting From the Lip
You don't need to get serious with every hockey book you read. In this book, author Chris O'Donnell has a collection of the greatest quotes and quips. The quotes are sharp, clever or funny and usually all three.