Friday, September 14, 2012
An alternative view of the NHL lockout
On Saturday night at 11:59 p.m. EDT, the National Hockey League plans to lockout the players if no new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached before the deadline.
As it currently stands, no meetings are planned and the sides are miles apart. In 2004, the last time that the CBA was up for grabs, there was a three month delay before further negotiations were attempted and eventually the entire season was lost.
Hockey fans lived through the ordeal when the 2004-05 season was the first season completely lost due to labor strife in the history of North American professional sports. The NHL returned after the layoff with new rules that quickened the pace of the game and fans quickly returned to the sport that they loved.
The NHL and the NHL Players Association are again banking on the fan's patience and their assumption that fans will put another lockout behind them and return in the same manner.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman offended many fans last month when he arrogantly stated "We recovered last time because we have the world’s greatest fans."
That may have worked in 2004 but will it fly once again?
I was probably one of the few followers of the game that actually enjoyed the time away from the rink during the last lockout. I had two son's playing hockey and a mother living out her last few months of life. I had plenty to do and made lasting memories with my boys and mother instead of going to NHL games.
When hockey returned, I did too, and was somewhat refreshed from a year where I didn't drive 100 miles fifty times in a six month period to attend games.
Now as we await the lockout keys turning, instead of being up in arms that the owners and players will give fans the middle finger once again, fans should start planning how to live life to its fullest.
I really like Jiff peanut butter. If it suddenly became unavailable I would not be happy. I would begrudgingly buy Skippy or Peter Pan and move on.
Hockey fans should do the same. Go to minor or junior games or if you are really Jonesing for a cold building, go watch a bunch of kids play at the local house league. Football, pro or college, the baseball postseason, or many other sports are not affected by the lockout if you savor the stadium experience.
Better yet, check out other things that you have never been able to do in the fall because of your dying allegiance to the sport of hockey. With all the money saved on tickets, parking and food and beverages, there are plenty of options out there.
Each dollar you don't spend on "hockey related revenue" is one dollar less for the millionaires to fight over. At some point, they may miss a few of your dollars and decide to play hockey again.
My suggestion is that fans tune out all the negotiations (or lack of them) and try to live life to its fullest in the extra time you are being given. Time is one of the few things that you can't make more of or increase. Value every minute and don't waste it worrying about something that is completely out of your control.
Personally, I am enjoying the extra time I have been given and have not used one ounce of emotional energy being upset about the lack of hockey. I'm not the least bit concerned about the players or owners since, to an extent, they control their own destiny.
The folks that we should be concerned about in this whole mess are all the folks who depend on NHL games to put food on the family table by working part-time jobs at the rink or are in businesses that depend on 41 home games to make payroll and keep the doors open. Our prayers go out to them.
In summary, I'm sure everyone is hopeful for a quick resolution to the situation but instead of being upset, consider it a vacation and enjoy the extra time you have with your family and friends.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass