CHICAGO - The nights have been fairly ordinary for Robert Dolan of Evergreen Park during the late fall of 2012.
"Well, you know, I've been picking up some books I've been meaning to read for awhile. Really got into some crafts; started constructing a new train village for my model trains. Oooh! And I've been baking! Made these awesome dream bars the other night...'lil coconut and chocolate chip..."
Dolan's voice trailed off into the distance. His eyes, now entangled with the stars in the distance, began to water.
"I'm a fraud. I'm just...I'm a fraud!"
Dolan threw his 'I'm Mr. Mom' apron to the side and began to bawl uncontrollably.
For Dolan and thousands of other Chicago Blackhawks fans, they have been forced to take up hobbies. This fall, the NHL lockout has taken their only true passion from them: hockey, the Blackhawks, and the NHL.
"Look at me! I'm making dream bars! Dream bars! Last year, I was sitting in section 325 getting into a fist fight with a Blues fan about how Bernie Federko is the most overrated player in NHL history. Now? I just got pissed off that the brown sugar I bought didn't pack the right way. It was dry. I thought the whole part of buying packaged brown sugar was for it to be moist! Who makes this crap?! Dammit! There I go again! Why do I care?!"
Dolan, like many area fans, have checked into local hospitals for mental health check-ups. The distraught feelings from the lockout have been pervasive amongst area followers.
"We haven't seen anything like this before," said Dr. Alan Rebowitz of Northwestern University. "This lockout, even more so than previous work stoppages, has really impacted the community. A man I ran into yesterday developed a dedication for unicycles. The guy knew everything about unicycles; he used it to replace the Blackhawks. Another guy focused on early 20th century nihilism. The guy became a philosopher. This guy, just last year, was in his mother's basement making hockey fight DVDs and posting lewd comments on YouTube. People need to identify what is wrong instead of running from it. Dolan is doing the right thing by checking in."
Looking at his tiny train village, Dolan excitedly spoke about his newly designed post office.
"You see? There's a little postmaster general, a little teller, a little letter delivery guy, a little mail truck, a little...JESUS CHRIST! What the hell is my problem?!"
Dolan usually wears his Duncan Keith signed jersey to every game. Now, he has stashed away his clothes into the corner of his basement.
Some fans, like Richard Tolson of Kankakee have decided to simulate the entire 2012-2013 season in the NHL EA Sports video game. Only Tolson, unlike other sites is watching every game. Every one. In its entirety. And guess who broadcasts?
"I broadcast every game, come up with storyboards, have postgame interviews...I mainly interview myself...I take on the personalities of other players. It's been a rough year. I played Don Cherry and I interviewed Alexandre Burrows. I got into a fight with myself....after which there was a special news conference, suspension press conference, and ultimate apologies from both individuals. As usual, I played all the characters."
After a long pause, Tolson looked disoriented.
"I need a life."
No future talks have been scheduled between the NHL and NHLPA at this moment.