There are certain topics that I have a leg up on writing about. Systems, the dressing room, player assessment and a few other things fall under the “ex-player” umbrella. There are other items, however, that don’t quite inspire me to write as many words, like, say, the CBA negotiations. (The players are presenting their counter-offer today, hurray!)
Because I don’t give a shit.
I never cared about the paperwork when I was a hockey fan growing up, I never cared when I was a hockey player that it affected, I just wanted them to get a deal done and tell me the parameters so I could start making assessments like “Hey, under the current agreement that Max Pacioretty contract is a real steal for Montreal.”
I feel that way mostly because of how little any of our opinions matter. Hollering about the nonsense on Twitter, Facebook, or face-to-face with your buddies isn’t going to make Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr go “We wouldn’t normally take this deal that we don’t like, but the fans really want there to be hockey, which we didn’t anticipate, so OKAY WHERE’S THE PEN?”
Not to mention, I live in fear of offering up a “You know what they should do??” opinion that sounds like the guy at the bar offering his opinion while being hilariously misinformed. “Yes, the Kings should sign Dominik Hasek, I agree, sir.”
And not to sound intellectually lazy, but the CBA is one hell of a complex agreement. When trying to decide on a back-up plan to hockey (as in, pick a major in college), I considered law after talking with my Dad and Uncle (a former sportswriter and solid hockey mind) who explained “Only a handful of people in the world actually understand everything in the CBA. If you can become one of those people, you become very valuable.”
Many of us, myself included, have a cursory understanding of the important issues contained within, but we still run into moments where even veteran reporters are “breaking news” only to find out they were wrong on a certain process. Specifically, remember the discussion about what Nashville’s compensation was going to be if Shea Weber went to Philly? It was just a scattershot of reports, until a few people actually got it figured out. Most bloggers just waited for a report from someone they trust and re-reported it because, hey, they aren’t lawyers. When even the trusted few who follow it closely can’t pin down answers quickly, most of us would be fools to give opinions and advise.
More importantly, most fans (wisely) wouldn’t take the time to try to understand all the legalese and tiny rules because, why should they? We in the hockey media are constantly immersed in hockey, and we take questions from the hardest of hardcore fans who willingly do the same because they love the game, so we think everybody cares about all these little details as we do. That’s just not true.
What most want – and this is how it should be – is to get to use their season tickets, have an excuse to go have a couple beers on a Tuesday night and watch the best hockey players on earth dazzle. They want big hits, goals, wins and….just, actual hockey. It’s no fun when the sports news is about subsection 2b. of provision 143.1a. For fans, hockey’s supposed to be an escape, not a headache.
All that said…I will, of course, be covering the negotiations as best I can. I will be writing my opinion on the news as it breaks. It’s my job, after all.
I just want the hockey fans who are already sick of the doom-and-gloom tone, the lawyer-heavy interviews and the “BREAKING: NOTHING HAPPENED” stories to know that I get it if you could give a flying fuck about this stuff.
For fans, there’s nothing left to do but be hopeful and put it out of your mind. It’s not impossible that the puck drops as scheduled on October 11th. And if it does, you’ll be all the better for not tearing your hair out during the summer over the latest Gary Bettman sound bite.