Saturday, January 12, 2013

The NHL Lockout is Over...Why You Shouldn't Give a Shit

At last, at last...the NHL lockout is finally over and we'll be getting an abbreviated version of the 2012-2013 season. A 48-game season is way better than having no season at all, and while I'm glad to see both sides finally come to an agreement, the whole affair leading up to this did nothing but piss me the fuck off in the process, along with practically every other NHL fan as well. With that in mind, this is probably going to be my last post in regards to anything involving the NHL (unless there's some major shit that winds up going down between now and playoff time), just because I've reached that breaking point in my life as an NHL fan, now having survived 3 (!) lockouts and plenty of piss-poor decisions from league executives, team owners, and players alike.

Gary Bettman, the beleagured NHL Commish that has run the NHL for 20 years now through 3 lockouts, handfuls of expansion teams in ridiculous markets, and some just as insane relocation projects as well, has to be on his way out you would think. The main focus of his job, other than "growing the sport" as he puts it, is to get the best deal on the table that he could for the league's 30 owners, and goddamnit, that's just what he did. When negotiations between the league and the players first took place and equally insane demands were exchanged between both sides, Bettman managed to get a good deal for the owners, albeit not the best he could have, given the fact that the NHLPA were no longer represented by a talking head to get walked all over by, but instead by Don Fehr, a put-foot-to-ass negotiator that helped make the MLBPA the powerhouse it is today. While Bettman did his job for the owners, you can't help but think that his time running the league has to be coming to an end. I mean for fuck's sake, it just HAS to. You can argue all day long about both the good and the bad he's done for the league (and believe it or not, he did have a hand in legitimately growing the sport after the potentially crippling lockout of 2004 that wiped out the whole year).

On the other side of that table is Don Fehr, who took little to no prisoners as he hardassed his way to get the NHL to soften on their deal with the players...and it worked at the 11th hour. While concessions were taken at both sides, it appeared for so long that neither the owners or the players would budge from their proposals/demands, and during the whole process, this NHL fan came to one startling conclusion: no one really gives two shits about the fans in all of this mess. Bettman, Fehr, and whatever other players or owners can say all they want in terms of how sorry they are about the whole thing and how they feel bad about the suffering fans going through life without the NHL, but they don't. Not. One. Bit.

Billionaires VS millionaires is all the lockout boiled down to, and both sides wanted more than either side was willing to give. And not one of them gives two shits about you or me, i.e. the people that help put money in their thick enough as it is wallets. And I for one believe that if we really want to make our voices heard, in this 48 game season about to begin, we just simply choose to ignore the proceedings.

Now don't get me wrong. I love hockey, and I even love the NHL even after all this bullshit. But goddamnit, enough is enough. Anyone with half a brain knows that whatever financial framework the league says needs tinkering will once again crumble by the time the next CBA expires. Within the next 8-10 years when this new CBA ends, we'll be at the same spot yet again, with another lockout and more bullshit to follow. Mark my words. And it isn't so much due to the league politics, but just because you've got 30 teams in a league based on what really is a niche sport, in unconventional markets like Columbus, Dallas, Carolina, and Phoenix that don't offer the fan support that a big league team deserves, and thus, will just continue to hemmorage money and never turn a profit.

We'll be back at this spot again next decade, and we all know it.

Oh, and hockey's back.

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