The Chicago Blackhawks were supposed to begin their 2012-13 season with a training camp festival on Sept. 22. To be clear, both the league and players are hopeful that a NHL season will proceed without games lost. But just in case your burning for hockey, there are still a number of great opportunities in Chicago.

Chicago Steel

The Chicago Steel is a member of the United States Hockey League. As the nation's only Tier I junior hockey organization, the league recruits and develops some of the world's best 16-20 year old hockey players. They play their home games at The Edge Ice Arena in suburban Bensenville and they begin the 2012-13 USHL regular season at home on Friday, Sept. 28 against the Indiana Ice. 

This season, the Steel feature a couple 2012 NHL Draft picks in Mackenzie MacEachern (67th overall to St. Louis) and Jaccob Slavin (120th overall to Carolina). The Steel are offering unique ticketing options for their upcoming season. The "Lockout Ticket Package," which is only $40, you offers four tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas, four pucks signed by MacEachern and Slavin, a locker room tour, and free parking.

For more information about the Chicago Steel, check out

The Chicago Wolves are a member of the AHL (the highest "minor league" level for the NHL), and will have a number of top NHL prospects on their roster because of the lockout. Affiliated with the Vancouver Canucks, the Wolves will begin their 2012-13 season with two home games in early October against the Blackhawks' affiliated Rockford IceHogs.

The Wolves also have some fantastic packages available for hockey fans, including their "Fan 4 Pack," which are four tickets, four hot dogs, four medium sodas and can come with a Chicago Wolves hat. These packages begin as low as $75.

For more information about the Chicago Wolves, check out

Reading Material

There are a number of great books available for NHL fans that want to catch up on some hockey history while waiting for the Blackhawks to get back on the ice. Here are some of my suggestions:

J.R. - My Life as the Most Outspoken, Fearless, and Hard-Hitting Man in Hockey - by Jeremy Roenick with Kevin Allen

This new autobiography is due out in November, and should be a page-turning look at the life of one of the most out-spoken players in Chicago Blackhawks history. After making his NHL debut at an 18-year-old at the Chicago Stadium, Roenick put together Hall of Fame credentials and thrilled Hawks fans along the way.

Forever a Blackhawk - by Stan Mikita with Bob Verdi

Mikita spent his entire Hall of Fame career in Chicago, and currently serves as one of the Blackhawks Ambassadors. This uniue look back at his career comes with a DVD that helps younger fans understand how truly remarkable "Stosh" was on the ice.

The Golden Jet - by Bobby Hull with Bob Verdi

Playing with Mikita, Hull was one of the great sports celebrities of the 1960s and 1970s. During his time with the Hawks, The Golden Jet broke records and won the 1961 Stanley Cup. This look back at his career also comes with a DVD that includes highlights and comments from the charismatic forward.

100 Things Blackhawks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die - by Tab Bamford (foreword by Jeremy Roenick)

This is an easy-to-read look back at Blackhawks history, with a few ideas of things Hawks fans can do while waiting for the NHL to start playing again.