As a Flyers fan, it is a natural part of my being to be genuinely excited about the scheduled start of the 2012-2013 Flyers season. This young and energetic team, which gained tremendous exposure during last season’s Winter Classic and the HBO 24/7 series, is poised to make another run deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, even a Stanley Cup Final appearance. This should be an exciting time for Flyers fans and Philadelphians as a whole in part because this is the perfect opportunity for the orange and black to fill the void left by the Phillies who missed the playoffs for the first time since the end of the 2006 season. Unfortunately, this is a bad time to be a Flyers fan. For the second time in less than 10 years, there is an NHL lockout. This means my Chris Pronger sweater (jersey for you more casual hockey fans) must remain in my closet for at least another month, most likely even longer. Since it seems my lot in life as a Philadelphia sports fan to suffer, I am bombarded with the orange and black imagery associated with Halloween. Every pumpkin I see reminds me of those beach ball sized hockey pucks that goalies claim to see when they are in “the zone.” Each black cat darting across my path conjurs images of beautifully timed and executed passes. The pale and almost transparent nature of an image of a ghost toys with me like an open net just begging for a puck to slide across the ice into its open 4 x 6 frame. Sadly, these are nothing more than illusions that hit me harder than a right hook from Scott Hartnell. This wouldn’t be so bad if the Phantoms still played here instead of Adirondack. There is talk that the season may start with the Winter Classic in Detroit and I hope it does. If for no other reason, it will be better television than one of the 6000 corporate sponsored college bowl games that will be on ( although the Chik-Fil-A sounds the most delicious). For now, the Flyers are scattered across the globe: Giroux and Briere in Germany, Hartnell in Finland, Bryz in Russia (where the net is humongous big), and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad they are playing and getting ready for when they can come back to the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, but I’m selfish. I want them back now. I want Claude Giroux to autograph my copy of NHL 13. I want to hear Peter Laviolette urging the team to “play with some jam.” I want my hockey team back. It’s time for the owners to stop making this about money. Let’s lace up the skates, hit the ice, and settle this the way it should be settled…with a shootout.