The NHL lockout is now in its fourth month, and it doesn't look like it will end anytime soon. The NHL and NHLPA are heading to court, which resulted from the NHLPA voting to decide whether to de-certify or not, and the NHL is willing to void all contracts to win the legal battle.
While the NHLPA and NHL are battling it out, there is another side that is being taken for granted: the fans. Hockey fans are seen as some of the most loyal fans in all of sports, but after being locked out for the second time in eight years, even some diehards are getting fed up with the league.
Because of the lockout, some fans can't see the players that their franchise has spent millions on. Others are failing to see what could have been their best season to date. The following are the 10 most frustrated fanbases with the lockout and the effects of it.
The first, and possibly most obvious choice, is the Los Angeles Kings. The reigning champs have yet to play a game to defend their title.
The Kings last played hockey on June 11, 2012, which is also the last time the puck was dropped for a game. The Kings have now waited four months longer than expected to raise their championship banner, and it may be even longer.
As a team, the Kings signed Jonathan Quick to a long-term extension, seeing him as the goaltender of the future. They will also be treated to a full year of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. The Kings lost nearly no one to free agency, and if they play as well as they did in the playoffs, they have a pretty good chance to repeat as Cup champions.
But with the lockout, the Kings don't get to celebrate their championship, and they don't get to raise their banner. If there's any good from the lockout, it may be that the Kings could shake the Cup hangover.
The New York Rangers were just two points away from winning the Presidents' Trophy, and were the favorites to make it to the finals from the Eastern Conference. But a conference finals exit spoiled their hopes.
The Rangers were ready to show the NHL that they were ready to win the Stanley Cup once again. The Rangers went out and made the biggest trade of the offseason, dealing for Rick Nash. Nash adds a play-making and scoring depth that makes the Rangers front line the best in the NHL.
Along with Nash, the Rangers are backstopped by Henrik Lundqvist, or King Henrik. Add the defensive skills of Michael Del Zotto and Marc Staal, and the Rangers are one of the most complete teams in the NHL.
With no season, the Rangers can't prove just how good they are, and their window of winning a Cup is closing. This lockout is cutting into the Rangers' ability to win, and the fans are losing out on seeing one of the best teams in the NHL.
Another team that made a huge splash in the off-season was the Minnesota Wild. The Wild managed to secure the top two free agents on the market.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with the Wild a few days after free agency started, and went to a team that was underachieving. Parise and Suter join the likes of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi and Zenon Konopka.
The offense has a lot of big names, but fans want to see how Suter manages the blue line and if he can help bolster the defense that has been lackluster in recent years.
Fans want to see the biggest names on the market on the ice together. The Wild have the opportunity to repeat the magic of the 2002-2003 season. But the lockout is putting a damper on the hopefulness of the Minnesota fanbase.
The Carolina Hurricanes were not very successful this past season, but fans are excited about whenever the team can get back on the ice. The reason for the excitement: Jordan Staal.
The Hurricanes traded for Staal at the draft back in June. Staal now joins his brother Eric Staal, and have the opportunity to play on the same line with each other. The Hurricanes may be able to recreate some magic that the Sedin twins have.
Hurricane fans want to know if Jordan Staal will be the answer to getting back to the playoffs. Another is if Alexander Semin will live up to the hype that he brought to the club when he signed with the Hurricanes. Cam Ward provides some stellar backstopping, and with the added offense, the Staal brothers could be the extra push to get back to the playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues were the surprise of the 2011-2012 season. The team started out 6-7, and stormed to the top of the Central Division and second place in the Western Conference.
The Blues signed everyone that they needed to in the off-season, including extensions to fan favorites David Perron and T.J. Oshie. But what has fans most excited is the arrival of Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Blues had stellar goaltending, a great young defense and a gritty offense that lacked a pure goalscorer. With Tarasenko, the Blues have one of the best teams in history. But fans have to wait for the team to not only show they are the real deal in the NHL, but also to see a team that could bring the franchise their first Stanley Cup.
Last season, there was not a more passionate fan base than the Winnipeg Jets franchise. Now, they are having to endure another season without hockey.
The Winnipeg Jets were brought to Winnipeg from Atlanta, and within the first 17 minutes, completely sold out their season tickets. The Jets sold out every one of their home games and were ready for another season of hockey.
But now, the NHL is locking out the season, and Winnipeg is now forced to add to their 15 years of no hockey. The Jets fans are more than frustrated with having to sit through another season without hockey after just one season of hockey. Jets fans just want there to be hockey, and want a deal done as soon as possible.
The Dallas Stars have fallen on hard times in the past few years, but with new additions, the Stars were ready to make a run at the playoffs once again.
The Stars made a fairly big splash in free agency, signing veterans Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr, along with getting Derek Roy in a trade with Buffalo. Jagr, Whitney and Roy add some more scoring depth to Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn. Their defense is still something left to be desired however.
The Stars have Kari Lehtonen in net, and he showed promise during the last season. But, the Stars' window is closing fast, as Jagr and Whitney may not be playing much longer.
Fans want to get the chance to see these two great superstars play together, and possibly give the Stars prominence like when Brett Hull and Mike Modano played together. But a lockout is destroying Stars fans' hopes.
The fans that are getting hit the most by this lockout are Canadians, and there are no more diehard hockey fans than Montreal Canadien fans.
Hockey is the equivalent of football to the Canadians, and the Canadiens are the most popular team in Canada. While they weren't very good last season, the Canadiens are looking to make the playoffs once again. The Canadiens still need to lock up PK Subban, but the defenseman is the superstar of the team. Carey Price is a stellar goaltender and is capable of carrying the team.
Canadien fans want hockey back more than any team, and their fan base will do anything to get their national sport back.
The San Jose Sharks have been a top-tier team in the NHL for a few years now, but their window for a championship is closing, and the lockout isn't making it easier.
The Sharks are spear-headed by Joe Thornton, who is great during the season, but has been known to disappear in the playoffs. The Sharks were unable to get anything done with Dany Heatley or Devin Setoguchi, so they traded for Brent Burns and Martin Havlat. The Sharks defense is bolstered by Dan Boyle, but he too has yet to make a huge difference in the playoffs.
The Sharks have had offense and defense, but goaltending hasn't always been the best. Fans know this team is capable of winning a championship, but everything hasn't been put together at the same time to make some damage. The lockout is closing their window to win a championship, and fans are frustrated that the lockout is not letting them even get a chance.
No city has more ferocious fans than the city of Philadelphia, and Flyer fans are no exception. And Flyer fans want hockey back ASAP.
The Flyers were one of the best teams in the NHL last year, upsetting the Pittsburgh Penguins before being nixed by the Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Devils. And all year they were in talks for being the best in the East.
The Flyers have Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Sean Couturier, and Scott Hartnell up front, with Luke Schenn and Kimmo Timonen on the blue line. And even though Ilya Bryzgalov did not have the season Flyer fans wanted, "Mr. Universe" looks to have a better season this season.
But, with the lockout, the Flyers and their fans are sitting idle. The Flyers have a bunch of potential, and are failing to live up to it with no hockey being played.