On Saturday night, after the lockout became official, I had a weird, scary dream that I was trying to get to a watch party to see Stamkos score his 60th goal. No matter what happened, I couldn’t make it. The ground was mud. I ran into my mom. Someone gave me a cheeseburger (really). I fell into a hole and landed on a movie screen showing a 70mm print of The Master. And I never did make it to see Stammer score that goal.
This lockout is ruining my life.
If I had any strength left, I’d throw something. But this video leaves me broken.
On my right shoulder sits a sad little panda. That panda, which strongly resembles Mike Green, is pouting because both the NHL owners and players make a lot of money. If I stay in my current job for 30 years, I will make less in that time than an NHL rookie at the minimum salary who plays just two seasons (then retires). The panda hears millionaires arguing with billionaires about taking away his bamboo snack pile and feels helpless.
On my left shoulder is an angry little bear. He also looks quite a bit like MG52. He sees a League so stubbornly desperate to expand its fan base that it risks losing the fans it already has. The bear appreciates the optimism of expansion teams and the tenacious insistence that a hockey team can be popular anywhere. The bear loves hockey! But he is smart enough to know that hockey is a business. To prosper, it needs to profit.
Now read this letter from the NHL, and tell me you don’t want to punch someone in the face.
Bettman’s egomanical plan for NHL middle-market domination has hurt the League. There are successes, like Nashville – 20th in attendance last year, they out-sold Colorado, NJ and Dallas (link). Winnipeg was a beautiful move because they don’t even care if their team wins! They go for the love of hockey and they know what it’s like to go without. Well done, NHL.
I adore these people.
The failures, though, are where Bettman is setting his own house on fire. It’s easy to scapegoat Phoenix – even if it’s true. First in their division, last in League attendance. How many more ways are there to count? I hate to say that, because their great fans will feel the loss of their relatively new team as acutely as any of us would feel the loss of a long-standing franchise. Just because the Coyotes don’t profit doesn’t mean they are not loved. But the NHL is dragging around dead weight, funneling money and talent into an enterprise that has had it’s chance to flourish.
If you open a restaurant and no one eats there, it closes. The hardest part of that truth? Few people even notice.
The Coyotes are certainly not the League’s only problem, they just leave the biggest streak of flaming peril across the sky as they plummet toward Earth. Columbus barely out-sold them and now they’ve lost their biggest draw. When Nassau Coliseum collapses around the Islanders, it can aim for the empty seats. The Devils made the Cup Final, let’s hope they can sell more tickets next season. I mean that sincerely – the Devils should never, ever be on moving block.
Everyone listen to Sarah!
Explaining the lockout to non-hockey fans is tough – they’re all pandas who see money on all sides. They’re not wrong. But I put it this way: Watch Newsies.
The NHL makes money off its players. The NHL gets a portion of that money to run its business, re-invest in its future and, of course, profit its ownership. That’s business. The NHL does not have the right to waste that money and then ask for more from the players.
Throw away your own money. Better yet, stop throwing away money at all.
The only people who want hockey more than the fans are the players. The only people who want money more than the players are the owners.
I hate math, but even I can tell the players interests are closer to my own, though either way I’m getting screwed.
That is his sorry face.
I don’t just want hockey back, I want it to last forever. I’m with the players not only because they are the ones sweating and bleeding for hockey. Their plan is better. They have the clout to force the NHL to change this awful business model. Maybe the fans could do it, but will we? Will we boycott hockey when it comes back? Flex our monetary muscles and buy no tickets, merch or viewing packages?
Maybe you can. I can’t. It’s weak and feels shitty, because I know everyone is taking advantage of me. But if the game is on, I’m in. Always will be.
(PS: Guys, I’m so depressed. I couldn’t even try to be funny. Please read this Puck Daddy post, including the comments. These people have rebounded faster than I after being effectively dumped on a Post-It Note. Linsday’s favorite reply: “I’m surprised this video wasn’t Landeskog, Reimer, Crosby, Toews and Backes singing “As Long as You Love Me.” That would work on us, if it included a folding chair dance routine.)
Sigh. That does help a little.