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NHL Lockout: How Not to Build a Fan Base

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In yet another case of fans being totally neglected, The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players Association refused to negotiate in good faith with one another. The midnight deadline for expiration of the collective bargaining agreement passed without either side doing anything; therefore, the lockout begins and there seems to be no quick resolution in sight.

When will the owners and players ever wake up? We have already seen the alienation of fans in the NBA and NFL when they had their work stoppages. Yes, we crave our sports and support our teams, but fans have a breaking point too. We know players make way too much money in all sports, but we also know the owners are raking it in too. NHL owners in particular are coming off a record year for profits, so can we blame the players for wanting their share?

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive Donald Fehr have been doing an Ali-Frazier impersonation as this fight has gone down to the wire, but this has been no Thriller in Manila. These guys are both down for the count and you cannot make a decision based on that. Each side is unwilling to give, and thus we have preseason games being canceled for next week, with the October 11 start of the season being highly in doubt for now.

Think about all the little guys who suffer when a season gets shut down. Besides all the people who work in the arenas, think of those whose businesses depend on those hockey games. Here in New York, all the bars and restaurants around Madison Square Garden, not to mention parking garages and hotels as well, will take a big hit. No season means no income. Period.

Besides the players losing their paychecks, they also lose a season in their careers. I am not sure how anyone wants to repeat the 2004-05 fiasco, and I guess the owners are literally banking on the players caving. The NHL will lose money too, but still gets the $200 million it is owed by NBC for TV rights even if not one puck hits the ice. How do you like that deal?

I recall wanting to give up permanently on hockey back in 2005 before they reached an agreement. Then, like most fans, I came back because I have always been an Islanders fan and I couldn’t stay away. This time, however, I think I will stick that Tavares jersey in the closet for good. I have had enough of this because both sides knew even back at last year’s All-Star game that this was coming. Everyone knew it, and no one did a thing about it.

So if this lockout drags on and we lose a season, the NHL will lose this fan forever. I hope more fans will follow my lead. I have Knicks games (at least for now) to get me through the bleak winter after football ends. So if the NHL is basically telling fans to take a hike, I will go on walk-a-bout from hockey and never come back, and this time I mean it!

Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.