I love hockey.
Like most Canadians, I have spent my share of Saturday nights watching Hockey Night in Canada, having a pint with friends in the playoffs and being crushed when my team is beaten out of the playoffs. The majority of my winter revolves around my favourite winter sport, from October to May.
For the second time in eight years (and the third time in under twenty years), the highest level of my favourite sport has been locked out. There is no NHL for likely, the rest of this season.
My first instinct is to blame someone. And since I always trust my instincts, let’s go with that.
Gary F****** Bettman, Bill Daly and The Greedy Owners
The easy way out is to lay this all at Bettman’s feet. This is the third lockout he has presided over as Commissioner. THIRD. The other major sports have had three lockouts/strikes COMBINED in the same timeframe (NBA has two, both of which were shortened seasons; MLB has one, costing the 1994 season and the Expos a World Series pennant… but I digress.) So, with that in mind, it’s very easy to call for Bettman’s head for this lockout as well.
The second-in-command for the NHL and Deputy Commissioner is Bill Daly. A lawyer in every negative stereotypical sense of the word, Daly is a vulture in negotiations and will not back down from anything Bettman and his overlord owners suggest.
Both Bettman and Daly however, serve at the owners’ pleasure. The owners clearly have absolutely no issue with Bettman’s tactics. Despite losing two and a half seasons worth of revenue, in the long run, the NHL has posted record profits. Would you have a problem with Bettman if you were them?
Donald Fehr, The Players and Their “I Hope This Works Out” Attitude
Donald Fehr refuses to budge. And looking back at the past lockouts and what NHLPA has given up, personally, I really can’t blame him. However, the players are now out of half-a-season’s worth of revenue, with the prospects looking grim for the season to ever get started.
However, it has taken until Christmas for the players to finally realize that the only way to move this nonsense forward is to dissolve their union and file anti-trust lawsuits against the NHL. Think about that timeframe: officially, the lockout began on September 15, 2012. The writing was on the wall well before this date, but for the sake of argument, let’s say September 15th. Three and a half months. It took them three and a half months to even CONSIDER dissolving the union. If I took three and a half months to do something that didn’t involve a backhoe, my wife would kill me in my sleep.
So, Who To Blame?
Everyone. The players, the NHLPA, the NHL owners, the Commissioner, and the Deputy Commissioner: they are all to blame. The percentage of blame matters not, for they are all at fault. And until we, as fans, stand up and walk out of this three-ring circus, we will always play second fiddle to the interests of everyone else.
When Major League Baseball came back after their strike in 1995, attendance (and therefore revenues) plummeted from their pre-strike levels.
With record profits, skyrocketing salaries and the ability to fill any seat in an arena North of Jacksonville, all of the parties at fault have no incentive to change their ways.
I am therefore taking a stand. When (if?) the NHL comes back, I refuse to be a part of the sideshow. I won’t hang my Habs flag, I won’t watch Hockey Night In Canada and I sure as hell won’t be crushed when my team is eliminated.
I am putting all of my stock in my local hockey team (for me, it’s the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs). I will attend their games with glee, buy their merchandise, cheer for them during the playoffs. I highly recommend to any NHL fan reading this that you do the same, or else in ten years, we could be having this discussion for the fourth time.
… and that’s the last word.