I played Ice Hockey in high school (1970’s) and became an avid Los Angeles Kings fan. Many a day was spent wondering if my dad’s friend would call and say he had an extra ticket. Fast forward to last spring and my Kings are on their improbable run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs…culminating in their first championship in franchise history. Suffice it to say my tear ducts were pretty dry after they lifted the Cup.
Fast forward again to 6 days ago when N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the players are locked out and the season is in jeopardy. The good news is my Kings get to enjoy the Cup a little longer…the bad news…the bad news is yet another professional league in a contract negotiation player lockout.
I’m not an N.B.A. fan and had they not returned last year, I would have been okay. On the other hand, I was sweating bullets earlier this year during the N.F.L. lockout.
So here we go again. The players are already looking to Europe to fill the gap with short-term contracts and we hockey fans are left to our own devices. Screw the fan, we’ll come back…right? Keep it up owners. Let’s keep playing this game with the consumer and see how long it is before we tell you to collectively go fuck yourselves. It can’t continue…at some point, the fan will become so righteously disgusted with this surreal game of chance, played with Monopoly money, that we will say adios. We’ll find another outlet, another venue for our entertainment dollar.
And what get’s me the most is that professional hockey players are widely known as some of the most humble, genuine, hard-working athletes in professional sports. So yeah Bettman, let’s screw these guys over and disappoint more fans, and further sully your product. Bettman, the stooge of the owners, is a wily veteran of these dances and will no doubt squeeze the players association for all he can. He’s no dummy, but that’s the short term assessment. In the long-term, he may do enough damage to a uniquely loyal fan base that all his efforts will be for naught. As much as I despise the man and what he stands for, I hope it doesn’t come to that. Hockey is a beautiful game played by humble warriors whose passion for it will always eclipse their passion for a paycheck…it’s sad that Bettman feels the need to exploit that.
Drop the damn puck already before it’s dropped in an empty arena.