NHL fans to NHL leadership. (Pic from iamthenordicswede.blogspot.ca)

Elliotte Friedman wrote a must-read column titled “NHL could learn from baseball’s labour peace” yesterday that helped me put a finger on the exact feeling I’ve had about the NHL’s most recent lockout, but had previously been unable to pin down in text form.

A choice passage from his post:

Only two leagues have ever cancelled their championships for labour reasons: Major League Baseball in 1994 (player strike) and, of course, the NHL in 2004-05 (owner lockout).

Since MLB returned to work in 1995, it hasn’t missed anything. That means the NHL and NHLPA are heading into completely uncharted territory. There is no case study that hints at what revenues are going to look like on the other side.

Now, we’ve heard Bettman say that everything will be okay “because we have the world’s greatest fans.” But, the question I’d ask the individual players and owners — who really have the most to lose here — is: what if he’s wrong?

I am so, so certain he is. I feel like my job makes me a pretty central hub for hockey fan opinion, and I cannot tell you how many (ex?)fans are claiming to be done with the league. Actually, wait, I can: lots.

Friedman never directly says it in the piece, but I think the implication is exactly what I’ve been trying to put into words for awhile now: Gary Bettman is overestimating hockey fans passion for the NHL (my words, not his). Something about the current mess made me tag this post with both “final straw” and “camel’s back.”

Bettman has seen the fans come back time and time again during his tenure, and is unwisely taking the fans for granted once more.

What he doesn’t realize, is that hockey fans love hockey, not the NHL. They love the Stanley Cup, but it doesn’t belong to the league. They love pond hockey, which is why the league’s heart-string twanging nostalgic playoff commercials are so widely beloved. There is no loyalty to some “shield,” the way Roger Goodell refers to the NFL. There’s hockey, and goddamn is it a terrific game.

Even if the league does get it figured out and only a half-season is missed, I’ll call it now: the fans aren’t coming running back this time (unless it happens like, soon-soon). There’s only so many times you can abuse someone before they snap. Some people have shorter fuses than others, and I’ve talked to people who’ve gone from anger to apathy this time, which as Elliotte implies, should be petrifying for the NHL.

I received a lengthy email from my Dad this weekend (who as I may have mentioned, played some NHL hockey himself), who wrote about talking with people in his daily life who A) of course have no idea what the issues really are and don’t care to know, and B) who don’t give a shit. Actually, that’s basically a direct quote:

Like myself, most people don’t know or understand most of the issues but the real truth is, no one really gives a shit.

That’s the most succinct way to describe where most people are at right now. They’re over it. Last lockout was “Grrr, hockey.” This time it’s “Hockey, meh, those guys are all fucking idiots I’m over it.” And from what I can tell, a huge number of fringe fans mean it. (And we had just hooked the famed Sportsguy Bill Simmons! Dammit.)

And the men in charge seem so lost in their own private battle that they can’t see the forest for the trees, which makes it even scarier.

More Friedman:

We’re probably about a month or two away from really realizing how long this is going to go. But, even if this season is saved, the scars will be visible and deep. All of that anger gives Bettman and Donald Fehr plenty of ammunition to maintain hard lines. They don’t care what the fans think, and, in times like this, they are both paid extremely well to ignore public pressure.

“…paid extremely well to ignore public pressure.” Dead true, dead ridiculous when your revenues are created by that same public.

I’ve written before about how the players hatred for Gary Bettman is hindering the two sides from being able to reach an agreement, and that’s making things more and more frustrating as the days tick by. As much as you don’t want to make it about one man (or two), you can’t fight the feeling that both the owners and players are a little uneasy about the flippant nature with which Bettman (and even Fehr) are throwing away yet another season. Players aren’t lawyers either, and must feel helpless to move this process along right now.

And what Friedman says there rings true: those two are paid extremely well to do what they do (and have both shown a willingness to miss games), because their livelihoods, their incomes, their reputations hang in the balance of whatever a deal looks like when this is all said and done. If Fehr or Bettman come out of this losing badly in a lopsided deal, they’re the ones whose reputations get tarnished (combined with that of the league, which is collateral damage). So for them, there’s selfish reasons to win at all costs too. The game is played on the ice, but this is their chance to be on the battlefield, be the centerpiece, be the ones playing. It’s selfish bullshit.

I know a concept of creating a new league far down the road seems ridiculous as we sit a mere month in, but watch this lockout spill over into the 2013-2014 season and beyond (a possibility which has been posited by a few people). North Americans will not continue to exist without a top-end pro hockey league. I don’t even know what I’m saying here, really, but I just see no way we go years without one. Not many people consider their hockey allegiance tied to the NHL.

I realize a new league is a tangential topic probably best reserved for another post, so to tie it back to my original point: this lockout is going to royally fuck-up the NHL. If overall attendance is down after a return, which it would be, another of Friedman’s points gets heavier:

In every NHL game there must be a winner and a loser. By definition, 30 teams can’t put “a good product” out there. Fourteen must miss the playoffs, and some of them are going to have horrible seasons.

What does that mean for franchises and their values, particularly in markets that are already struggling? Season-ticket money is collected for 2011-12, but there’s always next year (we hope). And, how would that impact player contracts? After all, if revenues decrease, escrow losses increase.

Good luck, teams from non-hockey markets who aren’t kick-ass out of the gates. Gooood luck.

There will be many people who, like so many on-again off-again terrible relationships, will return. But there’s also a great many number of people who are too proud to return to the person who’s kicked dirt in their face.

The two sides aren’t even close on a reasonable settlement. They’ll meet tomorrow, still be miles apart, then break off talks for god knows how long (while cancelling another month of games).

I recently read a piece on how smart Gary Bettman is, and there’s no doubt that that’s absolutely true. But as most of us know, there’s street smart and there’s book smart. Gary’s the latter, and if he’s missing the tone on the street, he’s going to think the NHL out of existence.

Comments (37)

  1. I think they were talking on MvsW about this last week; after watching the KHL game on ESPN are you a hockey fan or an NHL fan? I consider myself a hockey fan and, as such, I’m going to catch whatever college games come up on NBCSN and go to a couple Princeton Tigers hockey games (10 bucks!), will watch the World Juniors if they show it on NHL Network, but I wouldn’t really watch or follow the KHL much more than the stray highlights posted here or on Puck Daddy and to make sure players from my team don’t get injured.

    At the end of the day though, I, like many others, will probably be back despite our anger, frustration and utter disbelief. I’ll be watching on TV because while I am a hockey fan (and will catch these other games even when the NHL is on) I’ve been an NHL fan and more specifically a huge fan of my team. Unfortunately, I have an emotional investment in an NHL team that I’m not as willing to just cast aside. I’ve followed the Rangers day in and day out for 20 years and it’s something I can’t give up that easily.

    What I likely will not be doing though is purchasing any more jerseys, shirts, swag of any kind outside of that for my nieces and nephews who I’d like to see gain interest in the sport and understand the game I love so deeply. I will still go to the same amount of Rangers games I usually do (2 or 3 a season) but now I won’t be buying concessions.

    More importantly though, I probably won’t be watching the NHL as often.

    Since I got hooked I’ve devoured every game of my team, just about most nationally televised games and random games on center ice and gamecenter live (which I would buy so I can catch watch my team since I’m out of market) on the odd days where there isn’t a national game or my team’s game. Now though, because of the lockout I’ve turned my attention to other sports (mostly the NFL) and have actually enjoyed them and become a fan of them. Now, if it’s Sunday, Monday night or Thursday, the Rangers aren’t playing but there’s an NHL game, I’m probably not going to be watching and will catch the football game instead.

    I’ve been a die hard hockey and NHL fan. But what the lockout has done is take off the blinders I’ve otherwise had which had previously shielded my attention from other sports out there. What the lockout has done is decreased my willingness to spend the extra cash to buy NHL things I don’t need but just want. And the lockout has taken this diehard NHL fan and probably turned me more into a specific team fan.

    That’s what I think Gary’s underestimated.

  2. “Players aren’t lawyers either, and must feel helpless to move this process along right now”

    They certainly aren’t lawyers, but I’m not sure why that matters. This is their union, if they want to make a deal on certain terms they have the power to do so. Whether that’s a wise move or not is a different discussion, but let’s not frame these guys as being jerked around by the whims of others. They have a very real and active role in the situation.

    • But you’re thinking “they” as the collective. If you’re one guy – pick a random mediocre player – who’d rather play for a rolled-back two million than in Switzerland this year, what do you do? You can’t make the call by yourself, and the union has agreed to a collective front. So even though it’s not your opinion, you’re doing the right thing by not submarining the group.

      • I see your point, but I don’t know that I’d call it “doing the right thing”.

        Who decided that whatever the PA is holding out for is the right deal? Fehr? A collection of a few prominent players? There are a lot of guys who are going to wind up worse of if this season is a wash regardless of the deal, guys who will be missing out on a year of pay that they’ll never come close to recouping over the rest of their careers. Is staying quiet doing the right thing for them? That’s going to vary from player to player. I can see calling it noble. I can also see calling it stupid.

  3. I’m an Islanders fan – so I may not be the best baromater for this… but I used to carry a season ticket package for many years… then the lockout came… I cancelled and stopped going to games for about 5 years all together… after Tavares was drafted I was interested again… but i only go to 3-4 games a season – seek out bogo deals or bring a can of food get an extra ticket deals – still not convinced they derserve my money… with the lock out I’m less likely to get back on board with what was a team progressing. could it be another 5 years before my next isles game… not likely… will I ever ever ever get season tix again? NO… i’ve found better ways to spend that money and I’m never looking back!

  4. I actually now feel sorry for the players whose dream it was simply to play in the NHL. I guess those days died a long time ago…

  5. Have always been a college hockey fan first (born and raised about 20 minutes south of Mariucci where the Golden Gophers play and my uncle had season tickets, so many a night were spent in Mariucci). College hockey is cheaper, the atmosphere is much more fun, and the players (generally) seem like they’re having more fun out there.

    Only recently did I really start following the NHL again. If the lockout extends basically past October there’s a real good chance I’ll stop again. If these two buffoons drag the lockout on for a whole season, part of me WANTS to see the NHL fail just to show these two what idiots they are. I know that’s really harsh (and not fair to the players, it’s a damn shame), but if Bettman and Fehr wrote a book on how to ruin a pro sports league, they wouldn’t need to do any thinking, strictly look at everything they have been doing.

    • I’m with Joel on the college hockey point. Having grown up with season ticket’s to Clarkson University (ECAC) I’ve always felt that college hockey was the most consistently entertaining hockey.

      If there were college games on national TV every Friday and Saturday night I’d have no need for the NHL.

  6. in spirit of the labour dispute i will demand the following form my boss

    pay my salary,travel expenses,meal,uniform,insurance,benefits,
    and give me 57% from his profits as well

    hopefully he will understand

    • Just to play devil’s advocate, what if your boss made $3 billion in profits, and demanded you take a 25 percent pay cut?

    • See, now THIS guy has it all figured out. It’s so black and white, amazing everyone else can’t see it, right jose?

    • If travel is part of your job its not uncommon (in fact its pretty much standard from what I know) that your employer covers the travel expenses as well as your meals while you are away. Why should it be different for NHL players?

    • Which player is it who makes $1.7 billion per year?

    • “As well?” Not exactly, Jose.

  7. I agree, apathy is the worst and will kill this league. I really could care less what happens now and I have found other things to do with my dollar. I’m forutnate enough to live in a market that has a CHL team, several AJHL teams, a CIS team and many other small colleges. On top of that, the MLB playoffs have been fantastic and I have refound my interest in NCAA football (coverage since moving home to Canada can be suspect).

    As a guy who watched every single game (for a shitty team) for nearly his whole life to not care this much, what does it mean for the casual fan in say..Florida or Raleigh?

  8. I just finished reading Jonathon Gatehouse’s book on Bettman and the one thing that strikes me from that profile is not just his intelligence, but his confidence in his intelligence. The guy seems to know what he knows and he knows it well, if that makes any sense. A lot of people seem to view that as arrogance and definitely from that drive comes the control both with the owners and the media. I think that leads to his bullheaded response when it comes to the fans.

    I’m actually not sure which I’d be more disappointed in: losing a season (or more) and having that lead to an even worse situation for the league with teams moving and more labour upheaval OR if Bettman is actually right and that people still go blindly go back to the rink regardless of how long the stoppage continues.

    But to mirror the feelings in the article, it’s just a messy situation and I’m too tired of it to get wound up one way or the other. In terms of passion and fandom, I remember feeling different about the game after 2004 compared to before. I chalked that up to just growing up and maturing, but now, faced with a similar break from the NHL, my feelings are just: “well…whatever…”

  9. Bettman is a jerk off.

    I thought I was a die hard hockey fan, but maybe I am just casual because I can easily see myself not going back to the NHL.

    Oh no, I don’t get a chance to cheer for the Maple Leafs – what will I do without that nightly depression. I can drive down to Barrie and watch a first rounder like Mark Scheifele play with two “exceptional player” status kids in Ekblad and McDavid.

    The atmosphere can’t be any worse than ACC.

  10. I’m a long time Pens fan, resident of Pgh, and parttime resident of Columbus. I’m a Jackets partial season ticket holder, mostly because it was faster and cheaper than being a Pens season ticket holder, for obvious reasons. (No 8000 person waiting list, for one. My poor ticket agent practically begged me to buy a full season instead of a half.) And I feel more and more certain that I won’t need to be any kind of future season ticket holder in a league that’s so obviously self-destructive.

  11. People need to get off Bettman’s case (not completely, guy’s a tool, but still) and realize that he is simply the representative of the league’s owners. He takes his marching orders from the board, he can advise, mediate, but ultimately he is powerless in end as the final decision will rest with the owners.

    If I was (legally speaking) fighting for everything I would go out and find myself the sharpest, wittiest and best prepared lawyer to handle my case. I wouldn’t care if the opposing party didn’t like them (in fact this may reaffirm my decision a little more), it wouldn’t matter if the public liked them, all that would matter is they was the best person I could find to handle my current dilemma.

    That’s what Bettman is, an excellent counsel for the owners. He’s made them oodles of money, protected them against to vitriol, and continues to enhance their cause. It is the owners who have seen his style for the last decade and continue to employ him because, apparently, he is what they are seeking for the role. They instruct him and give him authority. He’s good at his job, he’s like the wrestling heel who knows how to play the crowd to get the reaction he wants.

    As for the lockout itself, let it happen. NFL is around the clock coverage anyway, so won’t even really notice NHL missing until January as is. By then I’m sure something else will pop up anyway. For the last decade, I’ve dropped on average $1500-2000 on NHL related events (ie. pre-season game when in town, NHL1X EA game, NHL.com annual order, at least one or two trips to Edm/Wpg/Cal to watch a game) through out any given season. Regardless of whether there is a season or not that number will be $0 this year. Moving forward who knows, but the longer the lockout goes the more outlets I’ll find to spend my money and the less likely I will be to returning to the NHL (as I look at my closet now and check my age I probably should stop purchasing jerseys as often as I do).

    Hopefully they get their shit settled soon, if not …..meh…. there’s other things to do other than on professional sports league. Who knows maybe by 2015 I’ll care about the NHL about as much as I do the EPL (ie nothing). On a plus for Fehr, I’m slowly sliding back into baseball this fall.

    • I think you’re right but only partially so. Bettman obviously answers to the BOG. He’s a much more visible presence for public scorn than someone like Kevin Compton, but don’t discredit the autonomy that he has been entrusted with either. After all, it is Bettman as the lead NHL representative in these negotiations, not Ed Snider. Mind you, in that role he is without a doubt acting in the best interests of the BOG and is certainly following some direction from them, but he’s also no figurehead.

      This is a guy who just as he is tasked by the BOG to represent them, he is also tasked to help control the BOG and as part of it has within his powers, as mandated by the NHL’s constitution, the ability to fine and discipline his own bosses for speaking out of turn. That same constitution also dictates the number of votes required for a collective bargaining agreement to be accepted by the league, another key component in these negotiations that Bettman made sure to tinker with.

      He’s outlasted a large number of the governors who originally hired him almost 20 years ago and the ones that came in to fill those gaps were pretty much hand-selected by Bettman himself to become NHL owners. In that way, he’s built a near impregnable position for himself with the means to quell any unrest among those who he is supposed to be working for.

      Even if the owners of teams in non-hockey markets start to get a little antsy about a lengthening labour shortage, Bettman has taken care to stack the deck around that governors table to ensure that any agreed deal will be one that he personally oversees and approves of.

      Because that’s what this lockout really seems to be about: legacy and ego.
      Fehr came out of semi-retirement to head the NHLPA. He hardly wants his reputation of being able to deliver on everything the players wanted when he was with the MLBPA be somehow sullied by hockey.
      Meanwhile, Bettman was once embarrassed by the NHLPA in 94-95, fresh on the job and unable to control the BOG and folding for a deal that he didn’t want. He spent the next ten years stacking that deck and then got support and approval to drive negotiations in a way that led to the cancellation of an entire year. It’s hard to say how many more years he’ll be in his role, but it’s unlikely after such an overwhelming success in 2004 that he would want to be perceived as taking a step back or losing ground.

      • The most simplified relationship that Bettman/BOG boils down to, is that Bettman is the front man for the BOG.

        The BOG decide as a group who will lead the negotiations, how much leeway that person has, and what goals he is to reach in negotiations.

        The BOG has had 15 years of Bettman in control, these are wildly successful businessmen (in other ventures). They know precisely who they have selected to represent them, including intelligence, temperament, and every other characteristic of Bettman.

        I don’t buy the premise that Bettman has the balance of power in this relationship, whereby new ‘hand-picked’ owners are basically his toadies.

        Bettman is effective at what he does. As I said above, if I was going into a similar nasty dispute I too would seek out street-fighting, take no prisoners, loud mouth advocate to represent my interests if they were the best person for the job.

        Problem for regular Joe-fan is they are viewing this from the perspective of the fan. Fans are like the children in a nasty divorce, sitting there trying to understand what is going one and wondering why Mom and Dad are fighting and just can’t get along. Meanwhile parents sit there and patronize the children that everything is alright (or in some cases blaming the other side), meanwhile fighting tooth and nail for a larger slice of the pie. Try asking a kid who’s parents are going through a divorce his thoughts on things. It’ll sound about the same as an NHL fan on the lockout

        • I don’t believe the owners are under his thumb, but I also don’t believe the reverse is true either. Bettman, in a way, reminds me of a saying I once heard about the US President: his power mostly resides in his role as the head of state outside the country, rather than the head of government inside the country.

          I agree with you completely that it is easily to demonize Bettman and set him up to be the bad guy. In a way, that’s the role he was hired to fill as the face of the league.

          I just don’t think it’s fair to dismiss him as being just a figurehead, especially considering the power his position has and his influence over the process of selecting new governors.

          You’re exactly right that NHL owners are very successful businessmen and it should be noted that a lot of them don’t necessarily self-identify themselves as hockey fans or even sports fans. Depending on the franchise, some of these guys are pretty hands off when it comes to both the operations of their respective teams and the league as a whole.

          Bettman has been given considerable trust by the Governors to pay attention to things so they don’t have to. From that trust comes some measure of control.

          I believe he has quite a bit of autonomy when it comes to these negotiations because of that trust.

  12. i think the fans should have a lockout of their own and show the players and owners who really is in charge. the idea is that when the players and owners make an agreement and hockey is about to start again that on opening night at every nhl arena we the fans should not show up to the first games. imagine an opening night and every arena empty. that would really get the attention of the players and owners and they would think again about having a lockout in the furture. i have this posted on my facebook and i have asked my friends if they agree with it to share it with their friends. i hope more could do the same.

    • It’s sort of a nice idea, but if one thing is clear from the Bettman Years it’s that the fans AREN’T in charge. If we were, there would never have been a lockout. The NHL and NHLPA would have said “Well, we have our business disagreements, and we’ll have to sort that out, but our priority is to the fans so the games will go on while we negotiate behind the scenes”.

      And if the fans really stopped coming (which isn’t outside the realm of possibility for a few teams), the owners involved wouldn’t feel the deep, deep shame that was intended but simply close up shop rather than lose money (see: ATL, PHX).

      It might be different if the NHL were the only source of hockey in the world, but it’s not. If your favourite restaurant closes its doors due to a labour dispute, you might be sad, but you’d still just eat elsewhere. Maybe at a new place, that even has the same chefs that used to be at the old place And maybe you get used to the new place and decide you like it so much that when the old place re-opens, you don’t even notice. Won’t be long before Old Place shuts down for good. And maybe a new restaurant opens on the same site, and maybe it does OK.

      I guess what I’m saying is that a unified fan revolt won’t work because a) you won’t unify the fans because you can’t convince them that it really matters; and b) you won’t convince the NHL or the PA that the fans really matter.

  13. I’m totally on the done with it side. I’ve been telling friends and family since it started to not get down, just go find some other hockey to watch. Check out a SR. Mens game somewhere, or some midget action at your local rink.
    “There’s hockey, and goddamn is it a terrific game.” – I love this line, I couldn’t agree more, so just go out and find a game to watch. Love it for what it is, and who cares how long it takes these monkeys to sort it all out.

  14. Good, I hope Bettman does think the league out of existence. I’d be more than happy to support another league. As you alluded to, my allegiance is to hockey, not NHL hockey. I still get my 2-3 nights per week on the ice through beer league/pickup. I’ll get my hockey fix no matter what. I’ll be more than happy to follow NCAA, CHL, KHL hockey, Euro hockey, or whatever North American pro replacement might sprout up.

    Say what you will about the KHL/RSL or the other overseas leagues, their style of play is wide open and more suited to skill players and most importantly……..their leagues haven’t stopped operating. The NHL has become a clutch and grab fest anyway. It’s like being back in the late 90′s and pre-lockout 2000′s. What’s to miss?

  15. I’m a long time Oiler fan, a young one though so I only remember the hard times as the 90s when we were the leagues farm system and the good times of losing a cup to Eric “the Diver” Staal. But with what looks like the corner being turned in Edmonton and good things on the horizon, it is decided that no games should be played this year. Curious indeed.

    I can’t help but feel like the so called “twitter lockout” hasn’t had the effect I was hoping to see. Mobilizing the internet is like herding cats, a nigh impossible task, but really? We are in the height of the communication and “first person social internet experience”. We should be able to put pressure on Bettman to really have some tough calls to make. When he is thinking we are going to flock back, we need to make sure he is reminded that alot of us will not be making the return trip. I feel we have turned to apathy a little too fast. I was hoping to see twitter tags and maybe even a few “occupy NHL headquarters”.

    I know that I’m kinda pie in the sky, but fans now have a voice that isn’t just the cheer or boo in the crowd. I’m not sure how many NFL fans there are in these comments, but being in the home stadium and yelling so loud the opposing team takes a penalty feels pretty powerful. Why do we not have this ability in these discussions? They talk about pleasing the players or pleasing the owners but pleasing the fans is really all that counts. I know the term ‘we’ is used a little loosely at times when talking about sports but I think we can force a penalty. Really should give it ago before these two children throw away their league.

  16. As a fan, and as a Kings fan specifically, I had thought that this might be the year where i FINALLY buy season tickets. They’d be the cheap ones in the upper level, but they’d be season tickets. And they’d be mine. And i was ready to do it after their cup run and given my stable financial situation.

    Now, there’s no way in hell im buying season tickets. Ill absolutely be back when the NHL gets it’s shit together, but i won’t be dropping money on season tickets. I won’t be buying any swag. Basically, im going to support my team with as little allegiance to the league as possible.

  17. As an Islanders fan i am never stepping foot into the coliseum again. If they move out of the tri state area i am giving up hockey. I have deleted all my hockey pages on Facebook. I am a fan of 30 years. Hockey is the only sport i watch. You know what the sad part is right now i dont even miss it. I can care less. once they cancelled the game at the barclays center i have not looked or talked about it at all. if they cancell this season this sport is finished. bettman quit now we dont want you. get out.

  18. Can’t respond to every comment, but I gotta say: this to me is what a comment section should look like. Reasonable responses, good opinions and ideas, anecdotes…just excellent stuff. Thanks for never (rarely?) letting it devolve into a shitshow on Backhand Shelf.

  19. I’m sure I’ll resume paying attention to the NHL when it comes back, simply because it’s the highest calibre of play out there and, well, habit. I definitely want it to return.

    But I don’t want to hear about when the next meeting is, or what the demands are. I don’t want to hear about what the players want, or the owners want, or what other fans think about it. I don’t want to hear about the negotiations or the deal or anything until hockey is being played again. The PR war is a complete waste of time and money.
    This is mainly because what they’re talking about doesn’t affect what happens on the ice, and the numbers involved are so far beyond anything I can ever hope to relate to that it’s just noise. I didn’t care about the frontloaded super-long contracts, because what billionaires promise to give millionaires is really none of my concern except for the part where it makes my favourite team better or worse. And I don’t think I’m alone – both sides seem to dramatically overestimate the fans’ interest in their corporate affairs. Are they expecting 12-year-olds in Nashville to protest outside the arena with signs saying “PLAYERS ARE ENTITLED TO 51% OF HOCKEY-RELATED REVENUE, WHICH IS DEFINED AS FOLLOWS…”?
    What’s more, as has already been pointed out here, there’s plenty of other venues in which to watch and play hockey in the meantime.

    Long story short: Wake me when play resumes. Until then, I’ll live.

  20. Most of the hockey fans here on Backhand Shelf are TRUE hockey fans. Sure, they would rather watch their team, but if it came down to hockey or a network sitcom, they’d watch the hockey game. These are the fans that will come back quickly after the lockout ends. They may not go to as many games, or buy as much merchandise, but they’ll be back.

    it’s the real casual fan, that doesn’t post on message boards, and only goes to a game a year (with a bunch of diehard fans) that won’t be back. The NHL will lose the casual fans for a few years. That is what happened last lockout, and that is what will happen again. After a few years, the NHL will be pulling in more money than last year, and we’ll be in the same situation again.

  21. Been a hockey fan since 1973 (the date alone should tell you which is my team), and I HATE sports in general. The ONLY sport I love is hockey, so I don’t get to entertain myself with football (boring) or basketball (more boring) during the lockout.

    And to be honest, the first thing I thought when the lockout went through was that I could get through my weekends with a lot less stress this winter. I even get to watch two of our guys burning up the ice in a league that matters less to me, so I can find more simple enjoyment in watching them do well — and they even stream their games online, live and legally.

    Eventually, the NHL won’t have a monopoly on the world’s best players. They may like to think that the best-of-the-best will always wind up in North America, but there’s no guarantee of that. At some point, some well-heeled hockey-loving European billionaire or someone like that will start tossing around money, and the drain will begin. It happened to Canada, and it will happen to North America as a whole someday. Bet on it. I’d love to watch Bettman and Co. posturing then.

  22. To all players & owners:

    I feel absolutely no sympathy for any of you… the ones I feel true apathy for are the tens of thousands of individual who have either lost their jobs or have lost the ability to earn an honest living from the sport… vendors, local businesses, even the scalpers, and so on… those are the people who try to make a living to pay their bills from week to week… unlike those greedy sons of *&%*#$^&(&_*% who are unwilling to settle. What some of those individuals make in one game is equal to what some people make in a year or two. I’d be willing to go back to an original 8 and kick the rest of them in the ass and let them feel what tens of thousands of people are feeling now… they should be ashamed of themselves for the greed they are unleashing into the world and the suffering they are creating…

  23. I don’t care what they do with there twisted little dispute our local whl team is playing I spent my hockey money on them this year .. I don’t see any reason to do anything different next year .. get back into hockey just to have it snatched away in 5 years again ….. It’s not about hockey in the NHL it’s about money …. MY MONEY… To hell with the NHL …

  24. Here we go again! Just another greedy bunch of players and owners. Who actually gets hurt in the lockout? Lets face it.Once again the people who make the minimum and who need to work the most.To all the ticket sellers,vendors,small businesses.Who will never recover from this loss.All the people who cant afford not to be working who dont have a say. In the end,the owners and the players will make their millions and laugh off another hard bargaining year. I sincerely hope that any hockey fan that has to fullfill their time during this lockout with alternative activities or sports truly remembers how much power we have as fans.We ultimately decide how much money the NHL makes based on our attendance. Ive had a love for hockey my entire life.Knowing that business is business.I hope both sides ultimately get what they deserve.50% of nothing when they decide to reach an agreement

  25. These labor issues are not something that snuck up on the league. They have been a long time coming. Like a distant trains light coming down the track everybody could see it coming. Just how much money does somebody need to play a GAME and live a very comfortable life? This does not just apply to the NHL. We the fans consistently get the short end of the stick and get shafted. Prices rise every year, on everything. The average Joe finds it difficult to treat his family to night out at the rink because of high prices. Sports in America is becoming a rich mans game. Your a millionaire if you own the team, your a millionaire if you play the game, and you have to be very well off to attend a game. I love the game of hockey. I don’t necessarily love Pro Hockey. I will get my fix with college and amateur teams from this point on. Hell I would rather see a good high school game.

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