As it seems like midnight is certain to mark the start of yet another NHL lockout, it is time to look at other options for live hockey; gotta feed the addiction somehow and not everyone can take the ice themselves.
Sure it won't be the Blueshirts but that isn't a bad thing - I've found that less emotional involvement often equals more fun (surprise, surprise). There are many other teams out there at various levels of play and they are far more affordable than the NHL. Road trips are always delightful, but for now let's just focus on the tri-state area:
Should the lockout stretch into the New Year, you can catch a pair of regular season KHL games at the new Barclay's Center. Dynamo Moscow will face SKA Petersburg, which could mean Ovechkin vs Kovalchuk.
Connecticut Whale - The Rangers' AHL affiliate is just a two and a half hour drive from MSG. Brooksie tweeted that Kreider is the only kid off the NYR roster that will be allowed to play there but Future Blue will still be well represented - Bourque, Miller, Thomas, etc. Plus Jeff Beukeboom is now an assistant coach!
Bridgeport Sound Tigers - One of, if not the most convenient franchise to get to from NYC as Metro-North lets you off just blocks from the arena. For Long Islanders, it is an easy ride on the Port Jeff ferry - leave your car in Port Jeff, take the hour-15 cruise and walk two blocks to the arena. And they then hold the last ferry back until just after the game. It is entirely possible that the Isles will reschedule a few of the cats' games for the Mausoleum, as they did during the last lockout. It's not like they will be using that dump for anything else.
Albany Devils - Another two and a half hour drive from MSG, but a team not really that interesting. The only baby Devil worth watching will likely be Keith Kinkaid, the possible heir to Mmmaaaaaaaaaarrrttyy. Like the Isles with the Sound Tigers, the Devils could resched a few of Albany's games for the Rock; they are already set to play four games down in Atlantic City which might make for fun trips.
Also reachable by car are the other upstate franchises: the Binghamton Senators, the Rochester Americans and the Syracuse Crunch, Tampa's new affiliate (meaning most players won the Calder Cup last year in a dominating performance with Norfolk). The Providence Bruins also aren't too far and they will be hosting the AHL All Star Game at the end of January.
Elmira Jackals - If you are road tripping up to Binghamton, Elmira isn't too far away and the Jackals were the ECHL's regular season champs last year. The Craig Rivet-captained squad is an affiliate of the Ducks and Sens and they play in an old, quaint arena that is easy to get tickets to. The Rangers' E affiliate, the Greenville Road Warriors, will be there on October 13th and November 21st.
Trenton Titans - One of the closest teams to NYC at just over an hour drive, but not in the nicest neighborhood (or so I've been told) and the worst team in the E last season. Greenville visits the Flyers' affiliate on October 12th and November 24th. (Thanks to MNYR for the correction.)
Danbury Whalers - Sadly the Brooklyn Aviators are no more, leaving Danbury as the easiest Federal League option. It is reachable via Metro-North - a two hour ride - and they have some raucous fans. Interesting note, Mike Rupp played in Danbury during the last lockout, with the UHL's mob-connected Trashers.
NCAA Division I:
The Frozen Apple - There will be hockey at MSG this fall, that is for certain: the annual college game around Thanksgiving. Cornell will face Michigan on November 24th, allowing Ranger fans to watch this summer's second round pick Boo Nieves in maize and blue.
There are many other D-I collegiate options in the tri-state area, including Army, Canisius, Clarkson, Colgate, Niagara, Princeton, Quinnipiac, RIT, RPI, Sacred Heart, St. Lawrence, UConn, Yale, and Union. Wish I could expound upon them further but have yet to go to a single game at any of them - this lockout should afford me the opportunity to change that.
How are you going to get your fix?