The NHL lockout may keep the New York Rangers from returning to the ice, and the team's "ultimate fan," Jake Gittler, from returning to the stands. (AP)

The NHL lockout may keep the New York Rangers from returning to the ice, and the team’s “ultimate fan,” Jake Gittler, from returning to the stands. (AP)

The NHL cancelled the rest of preseason play this week, but will meet with players over the weekend to try to resolve the collective bargaining disagreement. If the lockout persists beyond the scheduled start of the regular season on October 11, one hockey fan may feel the effects more than others. Jake Gittler was rendered speechless after being named the “Ultimate Rangers Fan” last spring.

“I’m speechless again at the fact the NHL is considering another lockout,” Gittler told Bill on this week’s Only A Game.  He briefly considered taking a year off from school when he won the free season tickets. He returned to the University of Vermont, but said he’s still hoping to have the opportunity to spend the season watching as many games as possible.

Gittler said it didn’t occur to him during last year’s playoffs that the players could face a lockout this year.

“The more and more you heard about it, it kind of dawned on me ‘this not going to pan out the way I planned,’” he said. “Sure enough, here we are.”

Gittler climbed a mountain with a homemade Stanley Cup replica in his video entry for the Ultimate Fan contest, and he couldn’t even voice his hope that the Rangers might hoist the real trophy if the season plays out.

“I’m not sure you’ll ever meet a more superstitious fan than myself.  I can’t even say the words, really, without feeling guilty. However, I think with a world class goal tender like Henrick Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik coming back from shoulder surgery, and the addition of Rick Nash and Brad Richards last season, and a captain, Ryan Callahan, who just has an unbelievable work ethic…I can’t help but think—ah, I can’t even say it. I do think that the future is very, very bright for the NY rangers, and it’s very exciting.”

But, just because he sees a bright future for the Rangers does not mean Gittler is happy with the NHL.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am very, very angry at what has been going on,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like the NHL is thinking about the little guys in this. I’m not just talking the fans, but the people who work in the arenas, the people who work in the restaurants and the bars and around the arenas, in the cities.  It’s just very unfortunate.”

Still, Gittler maintained hope that the league and the players reach an agreement and end the lockout.