A lot of hockey blog posts I read lately start with something like "Well, since nothing happened AGAIN, here’s something to pass the time." Now I appreciate web nonsense and general impatience as much as the next guy, but how the heck did we get so oblivious? Are we seriously forgetting that we just went through a bloody lockout? A year of NHL cancelled to us?
(Now I don’t know how things were in other parts of the NHL-starved world, but here in L.A. that meant we were cut off. Maybe twice a month there would be a rerun NCAA hockey game that we’d catch on the DVR, but whatever hockey was going on during the lockout year, it wasn’t being televised in Southern California.)
And as much as the lockout was a struggle between owners and players, really it was a struggle between professional sports and paying fans. A motherfucking year off. Can you imagine it?
Some blame the players for being such greedy bastards and failing to comply with the owners’ reported financial needs. Others blame the owners for being such greedy bastards and trying to legislate their own stupidity. And yes, all that is fair. Everyone involved was a greedy bastard and deserves a winter in hell.
But what about us, the fans? Where is our share of the responsibility?
When I’m at a restaurant, and at the table next to me there are children making a ruckus, I generally don’t hold a grudge against the kids themselves; rather I save my icy stares for the negligent parent(s) who allow(s) their offspring to behave in such a rude and distasteful manner. The fact that these kids need to be whacked isn’t any fault either child ("…but he started it!"); rather the fault lies with the parent/guardian that couldn’t properly discipline their infant monsters.
Well, folks, I am that negligent parent. I let my league take a whole motherfucking year off to settle some off-ice dispute, and instead of disciplining that league, I coddled these brats. Like a chain smoker on an international flight, I itched so bad for hockey that I ran back to the turnstiles, continued to feed this league my money, and half-pretended this whole thing was behind us.
The NHL (and all its self-promoting hoo-ha) tell us that attendance is up to record numbers. Hockey fans like me apparently are pitifully forgiving and painfully obedient. We love the NHL, even when it decides it didn’t love us last year.
But what, really, have we taught the league and its players, who notoriously would rather listen to our wallets than our blogs? That it is OK to misbehave and sit at a negotiating table for a year and a half while we sit around and (insert lockout pastime here)?!!
Now I don’t want to be a doom-and-gloomer (that’s my hero Tom B.!), but there are signs already that neither side quite got what they were bargaining for in this new CBA. So what happens when it expires? What happens when new owners and new players decide on a new agreement to meet new expectations?
Have we taught these stupid kids anything?
"Hey, take a year off, you two. Have a jerkfest with your lawyers and split up your pie; we’ll be here when you get back."You know, I really hope it works out for the NHL. I hope they can make tons of money and each and every greedy bastard can go home happy. But lately I'm worried...
I love the sport but not the business, and the year the league misbehaved and prioritized business over sport, I was negligent in my punishment. I, the NHL's lenient parent, gave the league its money (if not more!) and my precious wallet pretended the whole thing never happened.
Hopefully it won’t come to this again, dumbshits. Make your damn deal next time and play your hockey. No more motherfucking years off.
(Next drinky post: Why I hate new rules!)