The National Hockey League is at a labor standstill for the fourth time since 1992. The owners and players can’t reach an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which means the NHL lockout is officially underway (as of 12:01am). And with that, another hockey season is threatened, and fans — like me – are ready to run for the exits.
Let me first say this — the NHL is a joke. I’m a huge hockey fan, but I just can’t take it anymore. The league wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, and it never fully bounced back (even though it seemed like they were on their way). Sure, the major market teams had support, but small market teams still struggled (take Atlanta (now in Winnipeg) and Phoenix for example). For years, it was hard to even find the NHL on television (games were bogged down on Versus, which is now the respectable NBC Sports Network). It’s almost like the league didn’t exist for a while – and it still doesn’t exist in some people’s eyes.
There’s a reason for that lack of interest — the NHL doesn’t care about its fans. The league has made that very clear over the last 20 years. The players went on strike in 1992 (for only ten days before an agreement was reached), and the owners locked out the players in 1994-95 (only playing 48 games of an 84 schedule that year) and 2004-05 (wiping out the entire year — like I mentioned before). Training camp isn’t set to start this year until September 21st and regular season games don’t begin until October, so all is not lost — yet.
Yes, I understand labor disputes happen in the business world. And yes, I understand there’s a lot of money involved. At the core of the NHL labor dispute is a $3.3 billion pot of revenue. It’s a tug-of-war between the owners and players — both want more. I want to call them greedy, but I can’t — I’d want more money if I was involved too. But, what everyone has to understand is that $3.3 billion pot doesn’t exist without the fans/viewers. Unfortunately, it’s easier for an outsider to see that than the owners and players who are caught up in the fight.
I’m not a quitter, but I’m ready to give up on the NHL. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, and we lose a chunk of the season, I’ll have no problem bidding one of my favorite sports goodbye. That’s not easy for me to say. I’m a lifelong NHL fan. I grew up in the Seattle area, so we had access to Hockey Night in Canada on CBC every Saturday. My dad is huge hockey guy (particularly passionate about the Chicago Blackhawks), so we’d always gather around the TV to watch games. We’d even make the two-hour+ trek north just to watch the Vancouver Canucks play, and then we’d make the two-hour+ drive home that same night. I’ve never let go of that passion, and I honestly don’t want to.
I know hockey isn’t for everyone, but it means the world to me. I can’t imagine turning away from the NHL, but they might force my hand. It’s like being in a relationship where you love and love and love, but the other person just doesn’t care about you. I wouldn’t hang on to a relationship like that, so why should I keep loving the NHL if they keep spitting in my face.
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a peaceful ending…
What’s your take on the NHL lockout? Are you going to remain a fan if the NHL lockout carries into the regular season? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget to also check out more great sports coverage right now on http://allaroundtim.com.
P.S. I’m sorry if I rambled — I got heated about the NHL lockout and just started writing. These were the first thoughts to come to my head. I hope it all made sense!