TORONTO - As the lockout-shortened 2013 NHL season begins this Saturday, fans across North America are eager to stop living their own lives and instead spend hours watching other people try to knock a small rubber cylinder into a net.
"I can't wait for hockey to start!" said Cam Brewster, a life-long Toronto Maple Leafs fan whose happiness is based solely on the performance of 25 men he's never met. "I'm going to watch every game!"
Jenny Andrews, a self-proclaimed die-hard Los Angeles Kings fan, was shaking with excitement as she purchased a replica of the work clothes worn by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, at a price of nearly $200.
"We're definitely going to win the Cup again!" said Andrews, apparently considering herself part of the effort, even though she has never gone skating, picked up a hockey stick, or worked for the Los Angeles Kings. "We're number one!"
At the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, VA, many area fans opted to skip out on their own jobs for a chance to see several young, mostly foreign-born men do theirs. Despite never having met any of these men personally, many DC residents adore those who are paid to skate around the ice while wearing sweaters with the word "Capitals" sewn on them.
After the skating finished DC resident Peter Collins waited eagerly outside the Iceplex for a chance to have one of these workers quickly scribble their name on a picture. Even though Collins has never spent more than 15 seconds speaking with Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, Collins said he would take bullet for him.
Despite all of the enthusiasm, analysts caution that the excitement may die down as soon as Sunday, when many of these same fans will forget entirely about hockey as they watch other grown men attempt to carry a pigskin from one side of a field to another.