The NHL Lockout: A Rant From A Former Fan


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.



photo credit: theMatthewBlack via photopin cc


  1. your frustration is understandable… all fans are, but… what you are describing is a false equivalence… they are not both to blame…this is a lockout, not a strike. The players have always been willing to play while negotiation go on. The NHL has been nothing more than a criminal organization for over 55 years… remember the Norris family, the Smythe family, and how they screwed the greatest like Lindsay, Howe and Brewer etc. How they bribed and manipulated Eagleson to sell out the players union and how they knowingly allowed him to rape the players including Bobby Orr, and how they still owe Gretzky 10 million from Phoenix.. they are all crooks who have just hired Bettman to be they front man, so they can be anonymous.
    If you blame the players, you do not know hockey.

  2. While I don’t disagree with your assessment, the NHLPA is not completely without fault. If they were serious about having a season this year (or even in 2004), the players could have stepped up and moved to dissolve the union a while back. A move like that grabs the immediate attention of the league because it opens them up to litigation. Instead, it took them three months (on the conservative side) to make this move.

    So, while I agree that the NHL and its owners are at fault, if you completely dismiss that the NHLPA has any fault, you are no better than Oliver, standing at the table, asking for more gruel.


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