Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shame! Why the NHL & NHLPA Should be Ashamed of Themselves

The NHL lock-out has entered day 60, Thanksgiving is one week away and we are again in danger of losing another entire NHL season 7 years after having already lost an entire season.

That statement in of itself is so out there ridiculous when you consider what exactly is at stake here.

Both sides are content to sit and play to the press and tow the line and tell the public that the other guy is wrong and they are the one who is not at fault for the lock out.

A lot has been said about 50-50. Split all of the revenue down the middle and lets play hockey. After all there cant be an NHL without the teams, and there cannot be an NHL without the players. It would seem the NHL and its players association are in the same boat and its a 3.3 billion dollar boat and they cannot decide which state room to call their own.

All fans of the game want is there to be hockey to watch especially in times like this. I live on Long Island. This is an area that was just ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and things for the fortunate ones who still have homes are slowly returning to normal. For those who lost their homes well that is another story. They are staying with relatives, good samaritans, shelters and hotels waiting for insurance money or FEMA assistance.

Think for a minute how it must feel when all of they things that you work for are floating around in the Atlantic Ocean all while two spoiled children are fighting over a 3.3 billion dollar pie. Maybe if the NHL was in session it could give someone who has lost in this tragedy something to think about other than how they are going to recover from a disaster.

Another casualty of the NHL lock out are jobs. There are thousands of people out of work right now in direct cause of the NHL lock out. Arenas have cut back in staff. Teams have laid off hundreds of workers because right now, the NHL is out of business. You can take it further than that. What about the popcorn vendors, concession workers, team store employees, box office workers, security personnel and arena ushers.

Take it further than that. How about the small business owner? The bars, hotels, restaurants and shop owners who are doing no business thanks to the lock out?

Everyone mentioned above are fans of the NHL. They may not be hockey fans but they make all or part of their living off of the NHL. Not while this joke of a lock out continues.

So much has been made of "make whole" provisions to make sure players get every cent of every dollar they have coming to them. That is understandable but who is going to make all of the people listed above whole?

The NHL owners do not care about fans in the respect that they know that they will never want for anything. I cannot feel bad for guys in the NHL owners who basically have NHL franchises as play things and if they play or do not play it really doesn't effect their lives one way or another. If the NHL folded and went out of business they would write off the loss and move on and look for another multi-million dollar toy to play with.

The NHLPA does not care about the fans in the respect that most of them are millionaires many times over and have risen above a normal life of the 99%. They play hockey for a living. Granted players are under intense pressure from the media and fans but at the end of the day they play a game for a living. I know not all of the NHLPA are millionaires, but a very high percentage of them are. If the NHL went out of business tomorrow they would do as they have done now and that is go find hockey to play somewhere else.

Will their lives be effected? Sure. Will they still play a game for a living and make millions? Yes they will.

The fans of the NHL are its bread and butter. The NHL does not make a tremendous amount of money from TV like the other three major sports do. They need to build the game without major TV money. You do that by putting out an entertaining product on the ice and draw as many people to the games as possible and build a fan base to the point where more people increase the TV ratings. The bottom line in the NHL is if you do not draw at or near capacity over a season you do not turn a profit.

You cannot continue to grow a games fan base when you shut down the league every few years to argue over more money than any fan will ever see in a lifetime.

NHL fans are fiercly loyal this is true, myself included. You would think if this is the case then why does the NHL and its players treat its fans so poorly. Damage is being done to the fan base of a league that depends almost entirely on its fan base to spend big money to come to the 30 arenas in the NHL. After the 2004 debacle I would not for a long time spend my money on the NHL. Why should I? I watched games on TV sure, rooted for the team sure but I was not going to spend my money on a league and players who would cancel an entire season of hockey over money.

Time heals all wounds right? I came around eventually and started buying tickets, jerseys and NHL things again. I will go on record and say this: If they lose another entire season over money, I will not spend my money on the NHL again. There are people who will go right back but they should not. If another season is lost the fans of the NHL should ban together and boycott this game if and when each side decides they have enough of the golden nugget.

Imagine this. The NHL loses another season as talks break down and there is no time to fit in even an abbreviated season. Next summer the NHL and NHLPA hunker down and get a deal done. They both write long drawn out meaningless apologies to the fans and take full page ads in all NHL cities newspapers apologizing for losing another season. They open their doors and finally start playing hockey. The Rangers open at Madison Square Garden in front of 2,500 fans. The Toronto Maple Leafs face the Montreal Canadiens in front of 3,000 fans. Edmonton and Calgary open in front of 2,200 fans. The Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings open against St. Louis and raise their Stanley Cup banner in front of 2,000 fans.

Do you think they NHL and the NHLPA would get the message? This would be the NHL fans, the equivalent of the skinny wimpy kid punching the bully of the NHL and NHLPA right in the nose. The message would be received much like it was received by Major League baseball when attendance and ratings were down huge after they lost the second half of the season in 1994.

It took years for baseball to recover from the strike of 1994. Granted the NHL fan base is not nearly as large as baseball's. That is no excuse. If the NHL loses this season if attendance and ratings are not down by a large margin then as fans we are accepting of this treatment by the NHL and the NHLPA and will be inviting the same in the future.

In short, there has to be repurcussions. There has to be pay back. If there isn't, then we are just as bad as the NHL and the NHLPA for accepting it.