The NHL lockout ended yesterday morning and the frenzy surrounding the announcement was underwhelming.
Other than the sports networks that finally had some hockey to talk about, the masses couldn’t care less. Apathetic is the word that best describes what the fan reaction has been in the US and surprisingly so, in Canada as well.
During this whole process of attempted union breaking by the owners, it became clear that there were two groups of people that pundits and bloggers were feeling for. These two groups were somehow left dangling in the wind as the NHL and NHLPA duked it out.
The first of the two groups that were slighted were the “surrounding environment”, the bars owners, ticket takers, merchandise vendors and even scalpers. I find it hard to feel sorry for them as their relationship to the NHL is mostly parasitic. Yes, they rely on a NHL in service but as parasites do what they do, they can’t survive without the host, The host often doesn’t know or care that the parasite is there and the NHL being the host, why should they? The NHL didn’t say to the bar owner to set up shop near the arena and we will guarantee you labour peace while you make money off our backs. In fact the NHL arenas have their own bars that compete with the surrounding area ones. So the businesses that feed off the NHL are taking a chance, rolling the business dice and if they lose, well that’s business. I know that people lost work within the NHL peripheral businesses but that’s not the NHL’s problem. The owners were looking to break a union and create an environment for a financial windfall. That is/was their stake in all of this. If a peripheral business suffered, then that business, perhaps, should have known better than to ride the one trick pony. This is not to say that want happened to people who lost their jobs is not sad, it is…very much so but to blame the NHL for it is like blaming someone else for the choices you made….a popular sport in of itself these days.
The other group is that the pundits feel sorry for are the fans. All together now, lets say it….The NHL and the players do not respect their fans, they should just play…those overpaid players are hurting our feelings. The question I have here when the did the fans ever matter? Did the fans in Hamilton matter when during the twenties, they lost their Hamilton Tigers because the players tried to unionize? Did fans matter when the Canadiens traded Doug Harvey because of union business or Ted Lindsay traded from Detroit for the same reason? Did the fans matter when the Canceler is chief (thanks Larry Brooks for that one!) Gary Bettman said during the last lockout that prices would go down after financials were better? How about Guy Lafleur being forced to retire? Carbonneau traded after flipping the bird to a reporter? Harold Ballard? Were fans consulted or worried about when the Nordiques and Jets were jettisoned to American venues?
To all the fans that felt slighted…to the owners and players you were and are no more than a ticket stub and an idiot who is willing to pay 11 bucks for a beer. A sap who is willing to pay top dollar for a jersey..in effect paying THEM for the right to advertise THEIR product. The fans don’t matter until they open their wallet. That is the way it has always been and always will be…so don’t feel sorry for yourself. Enjoy the games when they are played and then move on because that’s what they do….they enjoy the money you just spent and they move on. this goes for taxpayers paying for arena construction. Please don’t get me started on the Expos or when the Baltimore Colts left town during the night.
Some thoughts on the the lockout.
1. Cory Woron covered the last lockout and did very well, why didn’t he cover this one? This is no slight against Ryan Rishaug. just being curious.
2. TSN690 bravely soldiered on without hockey and despite this apparent handicap still managed to outdo CJAD in everything from entertainment to information even as “just” all sports station.
3. Can Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole just go away?…please
4. I gained a new appreciation for Jack Todd.
5. I thought Donald Fehr would try to abolish the salary cap. I wonder why he didn’t?
6. The 30…all 30 owners should be ashamed of NHL conduct during this mess.
7. Let’s hope another media market giant does not win the cup again. The NHL likes lockouts after terrific media exposure.
8. Do the NHL owners look on their teams as money losers? Are they designed to lose money in order to gain some tax benefits?
9. I didn’t miss the NHL one bit…and I’m Canadian!!!!
10. Turns out Bob Goodenow was right….accept a cap and the players will never stop giving.
11. Eric Macramella (twitter @EricOnSportsLaw )was a revelation. He made sense of everything. Hope to see/hear more of him in the future!