Joel Quenneville has clearly come to grips with the fact that there may not be a 2012-13 NHL season and it’s time for you to realize this as well. Acceptance is the first step to bring you towards maturity and mastery. This is where I come in because clearly you need your hand held through this process. Wimp.

The following guide will not only give your life meaning, the strength to bench press 230 pounds and a Buffalo Wing craving, it will give you insight on who you ought to be supporting during this NHL-free year.

There’s a world of hockey out there, it’s time to open your mind(s). Let’s begin.

Location, Location, Location

The obvious way to get your hockey fix is picking up a map and figuring out where there may be hockey in your neighborhood. For some this will be more difficult than others. If you live in Santa Monica, Cal., you are more likely to be locally hockey starved than someone in Medicine Hat, Alta. Provided you can’t move to a place more prone to hockey games busting out — as our hypothetical Santa Monica native will find out — something like the NCAA’s PAC 8 hockey league will do you well.

The lockout provides us a wonderful chance to put our consciences at ease and help out the noble amateur. Check out your local junior team or a semi-pro team. Perhaps it would tickle your fancy to get liquored up once a week and become die hards of a particular beer league. Sure, the third example won’t evoke the fire of a Canucks/Bruins game unless Jim’s Motor Parts really hates Sandra’s Country Café, BUT it’ll be a game, and that’s what you want. Amateur hockey at large is phenomenal. Get in there.

If there’s a local team you can be devoted to, devote yourself. Get a tattoo (or jersey, whatever. Wimp.), memorize the roster, create and run a fanatical Facebook page. It will massively enhance your year (or more) off from the NHL.

Learn your family tree

Provided you are North American — and from what I understand, the vast majority of our readership is — your family probably came from another part of the world. Your family wound up on this rock by way of another rock and now there is no hockey on this rock. However, you could very well have hockey going on at the rock from whence you came.

Trace your family history back to its roots. Does that city/town/village/hamlet/pit of evil have a hockey team? Perhaps your great-grandfather played for a particular hockey club in the old country. PIGGY BACK OFF OF THEM! Their success is practically your success, so why not? Plus, you now have a way to drop elitist sentiment on your most obnoxious friends who have no hockey team or a lesser substitute. Revenge is a dish best served cold, hockey is played on ice. Match. Made. In. Heaven.

“Oh, your team is locked out? Well, my team just won their last game 6-2 in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. Did I meantion I speak German and you don’t? ‘Cause I do. Also, you owe me money.”

How vindicating is that? Time to ask Mom and Dad where Grandma and Grandpa came from. Your hockey future requires it. Tell them I say hi.

Be Original

This part can’t be stressed enough, though for the sake of clarity it is a clause subservient to the previous conditions. Please, for the sake of all of us, don’t choose a bloody front-runner team to give yourself a little bit of joy in your life. Hockey fandom is meant to be excruciating, tedious and filled with regret and I’ll be damned if I unknowingly enable you to dodge that part of a rich, fulfilling life loaded with suffering.

When I say ‘Be Original’ I mean please don’t choose teams — in Europe, for example — because you see them in the Spengler Cup and have determined that they’re pretty good.

HC Davos beat Canada’s Q-team again? Good for you. Excuse me while I go throw up about something completely unrelated to your smugness.

Oh, you happen to be a die hard of the SM-liiga team (fictional) that picked up Crosby, Stamkos, Weber, Selanne and the rest of the NHL’s All-World team? Please, tell me more about how they totally beat the team with Colby Armstrong’s younger brother. I’m hanging off of every word.

If at any point you find yourself propagating the above conversations and getting the above replies, you have FAILED in your quest to properly choose a team to cheer for. Pick a team because they have bonkers jerseys. Pick a team because they have a player who shares your last name. Pick a team because an embarrassing Google search you’d prefer not to re-live brought you to their website.

The more creatively obscure the better.

Above all else, be a good person

It has been just about a year since the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash that killed 43 people, including the entire team and coaching staff. In 2012-13, seemingly against all odds, the team will resume play with an entirely new roster.

In addition to whatever team you have determined to follow devoutly, you should be cheering for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to rule the world.

On the surface, the roster has roughly a dozen players which boast an NHL team on their resume and has a decent amount of talent. Symbolically, it’s spectacular that there will be hockey games played by this franchise at all.

Everything about this team is likeable and you should cheer for them every day. I will be, and I encourage you to join me with the good guys.

Conclusions

You are now equipped to go out into a brave, new NHL-free world wherein you develop a new tie to a hockey team. You will explore your neighborhood, learn your family tree, be original, use your heart to cheer for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and you will be a better person for doing all of these things.

The world of hockey is expansive, exciting and enchanting. Use the lockout not to mourn hockey’s loss, but to learn about a world of which you stand to know more.

You will enjoy what finds you.

Feel free to leave your new (or old) non-NHL allegiances below, on twitter or on our Facebook page.

I wish you all luck in your quest.