The pre-season is drawing to a close and I'm constantly reminded that, in order to save money now that I'm living on my own, I decided to forego cable TV and just sign up for really, really jacked internet.
But now that hockey's back on, even if it's just the pre-season, I find myself wondering at how I'm going to make it through the next 82 games (even CBC's offlimits; I don't have a line that connects my TV to the cable outlet, and no antenna since, well, it's 2009). Is this even possible? I've never not had cable before, and all of a sudden I'm without CBC, TSN, SNet... holy slapshot, what the hell have I done?
I'm not going to cave. Paying an insane amount of money to essentially watch 3 channels goes against my belief of Good God Stop Wasting Your Money. So this is the year of my tentatively-titled Suck This, Shaw experiment.
There must be other people in this boat, so for all of you who are cable-less, and I'm sure that there must be more than one hockey fan out there who is, a preliminary list of ways to survive the hockey season.
Go to the Bar. Always my favourite option. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but hockey has turned me into a drinker (my first drink was when I was 19 and a Canucks vs Colorado game was going very, very badly). Fortunately, I'm still a small enough person where a double vodka 7 will be enough to keep me buzzing happily along until the final buzzer goes.
Pros: You're paying anywhere between $5 and $20 to watch a game, but hell, you get to at least ingest your experience. And it's still better than an $8 beer at GM place.
Cons: You're paying anywhere between $5 and $20 to watch a game, and you might be remembering that experience through a hangover the next day.
Go to a Friend's Place. This is another great option if you have friends who are hockey fans. And who are we kidding--of course you have friends who are hockey fans. This is fucking Canada we're talking about. But don't be a freeloader, always BYOB and maybe a bag of chips or something for the host.
Pros: Who doesn't love hanging out with their friends? And you can usually make a ritual out of it. And if your friend is hot or hangs out with hot people, eye candy never hurts.
Cons: Not always the most convenient option when it's mid-week and, well, spending too much time with someone can get pretty grating after a while.
Stream that Sucker. I'm not talking about the illegal feeds that keep popping up, which tends to have really, really bad quality (and at that point, why don't you just sit by a window with a pair of binoculars watching the game into someone else's apartment and hope that they don't call the cops?). But if you're willing to search for it, there are some games that are streamed live from NHL.com or Yahoo! and the like. I find you can usually find the feeds somewhere on Canucks.com, if it is an option.
Additionally, there's also the other option of NHL GameCentre Live. It's $24.99 a month, or $199 until April 2010. Canadian.
Pros: Not only do you get to watch Canucks games, but for the truly avid hockey fan, you can also watch non-market games and maybe pick a favourite Eastern Conference team for the season. All of this from your computer.
Cons: Are you fucking kidding me with $24.99 a month? And at this point, if you buy in October, I think $199 for the entire season actually comes out to be more expensive than the monthly option. Plus you're watching on your crappy laptop screen.
Radio + Highlights. My usual staple back when I had TV, but had something else to do that evening and couldn't sit and watch. Growing up, hockey games were usually interrupted by let's-pretend-to-go-to-church time, and my sister and I would sit in the car in the parking lot of the church while we listened to the game. Fond memories, that. And there's a lot of nostalgia for me whenever I listen to Shorthouse's play-by-play and Larscheid's... he's doing the games drunk now, right? With this, you get to imagine that they're doing much better than they actually are, and then only later, after you find out the final score, do you actually get to watch them fuck up.
Pros: Free. Plus there are some golden Larscheid moments that you really can't miss, i.e. "I just came back from the dressing room and Pavel's groin has never felt better!"
Cons: Fuck using my imagination.