So I found what I think is Gary Betteman's email and sent him an email regarding what I think of the lockout.
Here is the email I sent him and I wanted to share for all to see.
My name is Robert XXXX and I'm a season ticket holder for what should be the 7th year for the Carolina Hurricanes. I know this email will not get a response, may even be sent back or may not even be read. Heck, I'm not even sure if this is an actual email address for you. But I don't care. This email is for me to vent about what this lockout is like from a fan's perspective.
I love hockey. More so than any other sport out there. I was born and raised in Raleigh and in an area where ACC Basketball dominates everything, being a hardcore hockey fan first and foremost growing up as a kid was pretty rare.
The ECHL had a team for years here in Raleigh, the Raleigh IceCaps. My dad and I would spend countless nights at the biggest piece of crap arena you can ever imagine here in Raleigh and would love watching our IceCaps battle whomever their opponent for the night was. The memories I have from this are countless. I have about 15 pucks that I caught, three sticks from players (one is even personally autographed), old programs and even a pennant that I mistakenly spilled NewGrape on as a kid. But that purple stained IceCaps pennant takes me back to those Friday night spent in an arena that was so awful for hockey, that during playoff games in the late spring, the ice would begin to steam and melt and huge fans had to be brought on the ice to prevent it. But we didn't care. It made us us.
These nights in Dorton arena are what pushed me to be a hockey fan. The first year the IceCaps were here, my parents bought me Stanley Cup Hockey for the Super Nintendo. I played this nonstop and quickly learned the rules and strategies of the game. This instantly lead me to following the NHL.
A few years later, a moment that literally changed my life occurred. Peter Karmanos was moving his Hartford Whalers to Raleigh. You have to be kidding me?!? An NHL team here in Raleigh?!? I was in heaven.
The first NHL game I ever went to was in Greensboro and the Canes were playing the Boston Bruins. I don't remember too much about the game except I won a hardest slap shot contest and this won my dad and I tickets to see the Islanders play later that year in Greensboro. I even got to see Gretzky play for the Rangers in Greensboro.
Hockey for me here in Raleigh has been amazing. The 2002 finals was one of the best experiences of my life and when the lockout of 04-05 came, I didn't quite feel the sting. I was a college student in nearby Greenville and the free football games and social life of being a college student took me away from the game for a bit. But when I returned to Raleigh in mid-2005, I immediately turned back to the game I love. Good timing as I'm sure you know what happened here in Raleigh that season.
When the Canes made their run in 2006, I spent almost all of it with my dad. Dad had been diagnosed with Cancer when I was in college and by the time I moved back to Raleigh, it had gotten a lot worse. He was given 6 months to live.
A few days before game 7, my dad told me he was going to do whatever he could do to get us tickets. We found a deal where if you bought season tickets for the next season, you were eligible to purchase a ticket to game 7. Done. Dad and I were there. I really looked at this as him “going out with a bang” for lack of a better term. It literally was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, much less my dying father.
Before the magic of game 7 even happened at the then named RBC Center, it was a busy day for Dad and I. I started a new job that very day and it was very hard to pay attention to training. After all, I had game 7 tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals and it would be with my dad. The same guy who brought me to IceCaps games as a kid, bought me Stanley Cup Hockey and the guy who is responsible for my obsession with the sport. Beyond all that, this could be very well be the very last hockey game we ever attend together.
Dad was busy too. One of the many things a cancer patient does, I learned quickly, was take many trips to the doctor and have many tests done. Dad was having on those tests done that day and everything we had tried was not working. He was literally dying. We were hoping for a miracle.
I finished what is without a doubt the longest day of my life at work and rushed home ready to put on my Canes jersey and hopefully watch my boys take out the Oilers and hoist the Cup. Right before we leave for the game, my parents sit me down; they had news from the doctor. Despite everything we had been told and thought, the treatments worked. Dad was going to make it. He was no longer dying. He was no longer terminal.
Sharing the moment of Justin Williams scoring into an empty net, Rod Brind'Amour almost not even allowing you to finish your speech before he grabbed the cup and the thousands of other memories that night with dad - and knowing there would be more to come is without a doubt the moment of my life. June 19, 2006. That was a good day.
From that moment on, the NHL, the Hurricanes, hockey and everything associated with it has meant the world to me. Dad and I were able to enjoy 3 more seasons together as season ticket holders before he passed away from Cancer in August of 2009. Those 3 years with him, that all started on June 19, 2006, are the best years I ever had with him. He didn't have a lot of energy as the cancer took over his body and what little he did, he used to go to Canes game with me.
This is what the sport means to me. It's more than a simple release from a day, a way to spend a night with friends or the countless other reasons someone enjoys a sport; this sport gave me three more years with my father.
When I think about the lockout currently going on, I literally cry. My tears have nothing to do with money. In all honesty, the lockout is saving me money. But I cry thinking about missing one of those three years with my dad and I pray no one else is going to miss that same bond with their loved one this season.
I know the lockout is more than about money. I don't claim to really understand what it is about, to be honest. But I'm 100% confident that I know what the sport is about. It's about a bond that only that sport could have provided my father and I. Please settle this dispute so no one else is deprived of those moments I was lucky enough to have.