Well, it’s getting down to the wire. Sadly, all the hope and promise of the last few weeks were dashed a few days ago. Somehow, though, this didn’t surprise me in the least.
I guess the question is, will there be hockey this season at all? There still seem to be a few who think that this will be resolved with ironic suddenness when all is said and done. Frankly, though, I must confess that as much as I’d like to think so and I definitely want to be proven wrong, I think we are going to have a repeat of 2005.
Is it Mr. Fehr or is it Mr. Bettman? Who really is to blame in all of this? Are the players being unreasonable in their demands or are the owners being greedy? It really comes down to what you read and who happened to write the piece you browse.In my opinion, both sides are wrong. It’s hard to fathom the proverbial argument between millionaires and billionaires when I have friends and family who are fire fighters and police officers or who are in the military, all of whom make peanuts for a living compared to what the players are signing for these days. I am not at all trying to sound bitter or jealous, but to me, this has gotten to the point of pure insanity and, yes, greed.
I know quite well that there are a lot of issues involved and far be it from me to try to comment on every aspect to what has been offered and counter offered by both sides. All I know is that the process is very much damaging the integrity and image to a sport I truly love. As Gary pointed out, it is the fans who are losing in all of this. We are suffering through it all, and it is not going to be difficult to imagine how many more “casual” hockey fans will be driven from interest in the sport because of this. Another full season lost is potentially going to probably destroy more than a few franchises in the short and long term.
After the dramatics and stupidity we witnessed this week, yes, I am of the mind that the NHL has become the No Honor League. I direct this at both sides of the table. It is mid-December, and you guys are very much in jeopardy of doing critical damage to the sport of hockey. It is well beyond the dollars and cents the teams are losing at this point. It’s not even a matter of how many home games lost are “costing” arenas and teams. It’s the reputation and respect of the NHL from the sports fan community that is suffering the most.
The other massive pachyderm in the room is the basic question that if there is hockey in the future beyond this current season, will they come back? Attendance was significantly harmed during the last lockout the following few seasons, and I believe you will see a more serious repeat of that outcome again. It particularly infuriates me when I get teased by emails or texts or Facebook comments by casual or non-hockey fans about this whole situation. It has become a mockery to many, and I have no or little ground to even attempt to defend my sport on.
I am, of course, still hoping that I’ll receive my Christmas present of a hockey season, but that hope has dwindled down to a sliver at best. Unless there is truly just a lot of bluster out there and both sides are actually a lot closer than they claim, the season is going to be lost … again. That is going to make for a Very Long rest of the winter and a lot of disgust and anger from many of us fans.
A few weeks ago, I was at the local park with my nephews, who are twin five year olds. There were a group of older kids playing street hockey in the tennis court. I couldn’t help thinking how ironic that was, as they played the game and some pretended to be the players they obviously idealized. If only the members of the NHL and NHLPA sat there and watched those kids and, perhaps, remembered what the sport of hockey is all about, and, more importantly, what they have to lose in all of this.