The National Hockey League lockout enters day 37 today and with $90 million in salary missed by the players and 10 regular season games already cancelled, both sides appear nowhere near willing to come to an agreement.
On the one side, there is NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman - well into his third lockout of the players (there were zero lockouts prior to him becoming Commissioner) and on the other side, the NHL Players Association (read: union) have ex-Major League Baseball union head Donald Fehr in their corner making sure the players do not get owned like they did last time around.
The players mean business.
The owners are not backing down.
While the owners save money and the players head out to play for other teams, the fans, businesses relying on NHL hockey and employees working for teams, arenas and these businesses are the ones who are suffering.
So given the absolute frustration and lack of interest I have in NHL hockey right now – and yes it declines significantly after every lockout, Gary, I think it’s time for all of us who love watching hockey to join the NHL Fan Association and collectively approach the league and the PA and let them know our position going forward.
This position should be something like this;
- As of today the NHL no longer exists in our eyes. We ask that the league shut down its operations and award the most prestigious and most difficult to win trophy to either the top amateur Canadian team or hold a tournament like play off between the top amateur teams and the American Hockey League champion.
- The NHL has to admit that it is trying to break the union, or just come clean and announce that it will resume play next year with non-unionized players only. Unions exist to ensure that employees are not taken advantage of, that they are not overworked or put in situations which could jeopardize their health. Unions were not meant to allow multi-millionaires to ask for more money from multi-billionaires. If players wish to cross the line and play, they get paid. Likewise, if a “superstar” like Ovechkin threatens to stay in Russia and play in the KHL then, see ya! No player is above the league.
- The fans must also make it clear to the players that we do not buy the garbage they are trying to feed us. The players and union have stated on the record that they are taking the stand they have against the owners because of their “brothers” coming up through the ranks. If the players are really doing this for their brothers then certainly they can afford to sit out for as long as it takes to come to the agreement they want without suffering any financial difficulties, right? Going overseas and taking jobs from players who went overseas because they couldn’t make the NHL, or because they live there is not nice and it’s another reason that all the other leagues hate the NHL. First the NHL stole all the top young overseas players without compensation, then they go over and steal their jobs. Shame.
- The NHLFA http://www.nhlfa.com/ also has to alert the NHL to the fact that teams in the southern US do not work. If the NHL is to survive and thrive then it has to beef up its Canadian content and that means 2 or 3 more teams in Ontario, one more in Quebec, one in Saskatchewan and one in Atlantic Canada. There should probably be one in Seattle as well. Enough screwing around in Phoenix and lying to the fans like what happened with Atlanta. And Las Vegas should never have a NHL team!
- The new NHL is going to need serious rules to crack down on what I call owner-stupidity. Owners who agree and sign off on long-term contracts which end long after the players have stopped playing are killing the trade market. It’s so difficult to trade an under achieving player who has 10-years and $60-million left on a contract. The stupid team who signs this deal and the greedy player and agent who pushed for this deal need to be fined and the put on warning. Otherwise the minor leagues are going to full of these buried contracts like Wade Redden. Do we all not laugh and shake our heads when the name “Rick DiPietro” comes up…
- Fighting is not an option in our new NHL. We’re tired of enforcers, goons and agitators who stake around trying to hurt other players and make the game dangerous. Hitting, however, we love. So any attempt to injure an opponent will result in immediate suspension and the perpetrator will not be allowed back on the ice until the player he hurt is back playing and he will not be allowed to play against that team for the rest of the season. Done.
- The trap and trap-like hockey is not welcome in the new NHL. Since we cannot trust teams to not play it, we’re moving to 3 lines of forwards to go with the three lines of defense and we’ll see how the teams play defense when they are tired.
- In addition, the major news and sports stations will no longer be leading the newscasts with lockout talk. Instead they will focus on AHL and CHL hockey news and highlights. Focus on the good in hockey, not on the greed and stupidity.
How long do you think it will take the NHL and NHLPA to get back to the bargaining table when they realize all their fans are no longer interested in their product. Put up or shut up guys…