Lockout Blues

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.

Actual photo.

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.


Leave a Reply

  1. Liz Reply

    I really couldn’t agree more. Thank you for putting it far more eloquently (and with way less swear words) than I ever could!

  2. Macy Reply

    Maybe this boy band will actually form (Sid, Toews, Backes, Landeskog, Reimer) and put out a full length record!

    “As Long As You Love Me”
    “I Want You Back”
    “Bye Bye Bye” (dedicated to Bettman)

  3. Just. Let. Me. Die.

  4. Lulu Reply

    I too am weak.

  5. I’m convinced they visited WUYS and fount out our favourite players (obviously choices) and made a video with them. Jess and I debated on the inclusion of a script, makeup and hair styling (Toews wins this one).

    Other favourite part? When I viewed this video yesterday there were 300 views. NOW? 98,259. Suck it, Bettman!

  6. Sarah Reply

    Yep, I want to punch someone in the face while crying.

  7. BKNY1999 Reply

    Very well put. As long as there is a lockout I will not be purchasing any merchandise. I will be back when the game is back, I can’t turn my back on it, its part of my reason to keep on breathing. But at least I can protest in some way. Btw, love the actual picture Pants. That’s pretty much be been me too since Saturday night.

  8. This is ridiculous! On Twitter, Prust made a good point–why can’t they play when the season starts AND continue with negotiations?! Like, I’m pretty sure they have enough money to live for a few months without getting paid–just a hunch about that.

    And listening to Sarah is right! I want my Devils season tickets now!!!! This would happen when I finally buy them. Because Game 2 of the Stanley Cup cost more than my brother’s ECF and STF tickets….


  9. Deanna Reply

    Your actual photo was approximately my reaction when the lockout became official. I’ve got a college team in my neighboring town, so thankfully I’ll still get live hockey every other week or so, but I really don’t know what I’m going to do with all my free time this winter.

  10. Ashley Reply

    i can’t help but feel that the NHL is like that bad boyfriend, who keeps breaking up with you, and then eventually begs for you back. You know that you care about him more than he cares about you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. And he knows that you’re so in love, that you’ll always keep going back for more.

    Now is the time to start drinking wine by the bottle, desperately waiting for him to come back. This is so depressing.

  11. Alexis Reply

    First off I have to get this off my chest, this video made me cry buckets…. lots of buckets.

    Secondly I’m still reletively a novice to pro hockey. For the most part I stick to the USHL the developed a love for the sport in general and began to follow various pro teams. I’m not entirely familiar with the lockout senario yet. For what I gathered for the article it sounds like the owners squandered money ment to be revenue and now they are asking the players to pony up more for their mistakes? I’m I correct? Some fill me in please.

  12. Ez Reply

    Great piece, pantalones. For as much as pro hockey charges (gouges) their fan base for tickets and merchandise, I feel this lockout is a blatant slap in the face. Both sides are pointing the finger, pandering to the fans that it’s the other side’s fault. Ironic how the current lockout and the election year draw their parallels when it comes to this sort of pandering. Too bad the fans (the backbone of pro sports) don’t have a say/vote, other than to not purchase said merchandise.

    Until this train wreck is cleaned up, I will be watching college hockey as well as my son and the other mites crash into each other this winter. If the lockout happens to end, I will be debating whether or not to watch pro hockey this season. I am disenchanted with the power and greed that has enveloped and mired this great sport.

    Last but not least – Move Phoenix to Hartford!

    • Pants Reply

      Ez – YES! I will miss Mites on Ice most of all, during the Caps intermissions. More entertaining (and more consistent, even in falling down) than the Capitals themselves.

      Also, Whalers forever and always.