I’ve been getting a lot of questions regarding what I think about the upcoming NHL lockout, but I can only talk about it for so long before I start to feel nauseous. From Gary Bettman’s disingenuous rhetoric about fans and what’s good for hockey, to Donald Fehr’s repetitive press conferences, to Donald Fehr’s repetitive press conferences (See what I did there? *slaps knee*), I just can’t do it. Give me the AHL, CHL, KHL – anything but this garbage. So allow me to prepare myself, hold my nose, and give my thoughts on the labour dispute between the NHL and NHLPA.
1. There’s totally gonna be a lockout. Stop with your hope, because there is none.
2. Both sides disagree on a lot of things that are totally legitimate. Money? Of course that’s worthy of a debate. The length of contracts? Absolutely. That’s worth taking a look at. But for not agreeing on what the DEFINITION of certain terms even mean?!?! Both sides should be slammed in the throat with live honey badgers.
3. In defence of the players, I have tweeted that jerseys sell because of the players, not the owners. For example, Islanders fans want a John Tavares jersey, but none of them want a Charles Wang jersey. In defence of the owners however, some have pointed out that many people buy blank jerseys with no name on the back and just the team logo, and that fans love the team. That’s a fair point. My retort however, would be that I have been a Toronto Maple Leafs fan since I was a kid, but I didn’t start liking the Leafs because they had a cool blue and white jersey. I started liking the Leafs because Felix Potvin made amazing saves, Doug Gilmour scored amazing goals, and Wendel Clark beat the shit out of people. Whether the name’s on the back or not, players sell jerseys.
4. The Winnipeg Jets were struggling financially in the 1990s. The NHL moved them to Phoenix and renamed them the Coyotes. The Coyotes struggled financially. The NHL expanded to Atlanta and named the team the Thrashers. The Thrashers struggled financially. The Thrashers struggled so much in fact that after just over a decade in Atlanta they moved to Winnipeg and renamed themselves the Jets. The Phoenix Coyotes are dead in the water, hemorrhaging money, and either waiting to be moved, get a new owner, or both. Imagine how much anguish the NHL could have saved themselves if they just let the Jets stay in Winnipeg.
5. People have been criticizing the fans that think they can stop the lockout just because they signed a petition. People keep telling those fans “You’ll be back.” You know what? You’re absolutely right. Those fans will be back. They love the league too much to not go back to it. That, however, is not the point. The casual fans? The guy in New York who watched a few Rangers or Islanders games on TV every season? The guys in Florida who took his kid to one or two Panthers or Bolts games every year? The fans in Boston the NHL struggled for years to wrestle away from the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots? The fans in California who just started getting into the sport because both Anaheim and Los Angeles have won the Cup in the last six years? They won’t be back. Ever. This is what the NHL has done for my entire lifetime now: Try to do things to change the game that casual or potential fans ultimately won’t give a damn about, while alienating the hardcore fans and making them miserable. All this from the same league that brought you glowing pucks. Yuck.
Now I’m going to go do something else, such as anything but talk about this crap.