Forget all the rhetoric you've been hearing about revenue sharing percentages, concessions, rollbacks, and millionaires-versus-billionaires.
The bottom line is, the National Hockey League players have been locked out by the owners and there will be no Vancouver Canucks' hockey in the foreseeable future.
"Boo!" exclaim fans across the Langleys, their hands cupped around their mouths.
But the third work stoppage under NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's watch could prove to be beneficial for the Langley Rivermen.
The highest level of hockey in Langley has always been junior A, and now it's the only game in town.
"That's what they say; they say everybody will bump down a level and come see the lower teams," Rivermen captain Thomas Nitsche said.
The 'Men hope this is the case.
Last year saw a huge drop off in attendance at the Langley Events Centre's Arena Bowl, which seats more than 5,000 fans at capacity.
The Rivermen averaged 845 fans at each of their 30 home games last season.
That's a noticeable dip from the previous year, 2010/11, when the Langley Chiefs managed to draw, on average, 1,563 fans to each of their 35 home games, including playoffs.
"It's always nice to play in front of a big crowd," Nitsche said. "It was something that we worked for last year but it was tough with [us] not getting many wins. This year will be very different and it will be nice to play in front of a bigger crowd."
Rivermen head coach Bobby Henderson said the lockout has a trickle-down effect.
"We added Tyler Vanscourt to our back end - he's a 20-year-old who played for the [Vancouver] Giants last year, and I think us doing that was recognizing that there are going to be a lot of good 20-year-olds that aren't being signed out of the Western Hockey League to turn pro. There are going to be some very good ones available in our league."
Henderson said whenever the Canucks played a home game on TV, it impacted the number of people who came to Rivermen games last season.
"B.C.'s a Vancouver-Canuck crazy city and it's easy to stay at home and watch pay-per-veiw and have popcorn on the couch but at the same time people are missing out if they're not getting out to their local rinks," Henderson said. "It's great hockey and at the end of the day these are the guys who will be moving up to the National Hockey League ranks."
Rivermen rookie Mitch McLain is from Baxter, Minn. but he's in tune with B.C.'s hockey-mad West Coast.
"I think it will definitely give people something to do," McLain said. "We're expecting a lot of fans and we're going to play our hardest for the fans every night."
@ Copyright 2013