Thanks to the latest lockout, fans of the National Hockey League will have a few extra hours on their hands this New Year’s Day.

empty hockey net photo by npclark2k on

Photo by npclark2k on

To the disappointment of Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs fans (but probably to the enjoyment of Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens fans), the NHL Winter Classic at the University of Michigan’s Big House set for New Year’s Day is no more¹.

UPDATE: A big thank you to Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy for the link love in Puck Headlines.

With the annual NHL cash cow’s outdoor game’s cancellation, what are NHL fans to do? Here are 10 ways NHL fans can put their unexpected free time on New Year’s Day to use, and fill the Winter Classic shaped void in their hearts.

Player Name Anagrams – This could kill a few hours, if not days. Amuse yourself and others by rearranging player names into different words. Steve Yzerman? More like Very Zen Meats. Last season’s first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov becomes Voila Ya Punk. Not bad. How about Edmonton Oilers teammate Taylor Hall? Halt Orally. Uh. Moving on. Patrick Roy? A Tricky Pro, which makes all kinds of sense. Good luck with John Vanbiesbrouck.

Count Rick DiPietro’s Injuries Over the Last Three Years – Clear your schedule.

Play a Best of Seven NHL Video Game Series With Real Time 20-minute Periods – Have the periods in your favorite NHL video game be the full, real-time, 20-minutes and play a ‘best of seven’ series. Bonus points for whoever has the least amount of hand cramps and blisters at the end.

Search YouTube for Game Footage of Mike Babcock Smiling – Better get a pot (or seven) of coffee going.

Make ‘Magic Eye’ Posters From Photos of Don Cherry’s Suits – Print out photos or screen captures of Don Cherry’s suits and make your own ‘Magic Eye’ posters. …Why do they all look like empty arenas?

Memorize the NHL Rulebook – What is the required thickness of elbow pads? Is a Match Penalty for Spearing rule 62.2 or 62.4? Which section does Refusing or Abstaining from Playing the Puck fall under? Bone up on that rulebook. Impress hundreds dozens several with your knowledge. No more Saturday nights alone for you. Nope, now the rest of your week will be wide open too.

Come Up With Your Own Advanced Statistics – The crazier, the better. Who scored the most even strength goals on a Wednesday following a re-run of ALF (ESGWAALF)? Which player has the highest breakaway entrance energy ratio (BEER)? Who has the best Total On-ice Attack Shots Total (TOAST)? Is there a correlation between the number of vowels in a player’s last name and his point total on the third Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day? Red Wings prospect Martin Frk should pay attention to that one.

Explain Hybrid Icing and Offsides to Your Non-Hockey Friends – This should fill up the entire day. Be ready for a lot of crying and attempted suicides. Stock up on duct tape first.

Go to an AHL Game – OK, so there is only one game, but Houston isn’t that far away, right? There’s no way getting a plane ticket on New Year’s Day will be a problem either.

Spend Time With Your Family – A last resort. Proceed with extreme caution and bring plenty of beer. But, if Mom gets out the scrapbooks—RUN.

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¹ A move I agree with, in principal. I want the Winter Classic done right, even if it  means waiting another year, rather than have it be half-assed at the last minute. I also agree with the thought that since this the Winter Classic is a ‘celebration’ of hockey, having it on the heels of ending a bitter lockout would make it look disingenuous, not to mention, stupid.

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Daniel J. Hogan is a geeky cartoonist and writer living in Michigan. Daniel is available for freelance writing and cartooning commissions (Contact Daniel). This post contains affiliate links, unless it doesn't.