The following message to fans was issued by the National Hockey League on Sunday:
"Despite the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams.
Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum. While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the League's economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players -- as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players' Association seven years ago. Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused negotiation -- not through rhetoric.
This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room. The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans."
This isn't much of a surprise. The two sides have been half-assing this for two months now. I can't even say whose side I'm on as both sides are making no effort to remedy the situation. The owners want more money, like most owners of every business in the world do. The players want more money, like most employees do. The last lockout, that lasted the whole season, was a trainwreck. The owners ended up bullying the players into a CBA that turned out to be more beneficial to the players in the end. The players won't be bullied this time, and the owners are trying to recoup money that they feel that should have been a part of over the last 7 years. I don't think either side will budge much, but there are some who believe the lockout could only last the pre-season - here's hoping.
I've never had faith in the owners to do the right thing, but now I think I've lost faith in the players. These aren't my heroes. My heroes are all but retired. These kids are the next generation, the ones that my future kids will look up to. I know they need to protect their assets and their future in this league, but they are asking too much. They need to sac up and realize that the 57% share they were receiving at the expiration of the old CBA was an unexpected gift. Take the 49% the NHL is offering and leave it at that because in another 7 years when the next CBA expires, you're going to be arguing about the same bullshit all over again.
The fans are the real losers. Everyone is saying it. I'm not stumbling upon anything new here. The fans have lost. We pay for the overpriced tickets, the overpriced concessions and the overpriced transportation to get down to the games (yes I know the transportation aurthority has nothing to do with the league). We, the Fans of the NHL, are the real power behind the curtain and we're getting shit on again. The owners know it, the players know it and there is nothing we can do to stop any of this.
Whenever the league comes back to life, millions of fans will shuffle through the gates and watch their teams and cheer and celebrate the return of the season. The NHL will have teams paint "Thank You Fans" on the ice in honor of us. They will have the league's star players do commercials telling us that we're the ones they are playing for and that we're the greatest fans in the world.
Thanks for slapping me in the face some more with your backhanded apologies. You really want to apologize? Offer me a season long discount on tickets. Offer the season ticket holders free games for the thousands of dollars they pay. Offer us concessions that we can actually afford. Have fan appreciation nights and get on your fucking hands and knees and thank us, the Fans, for taking you back into our homes and hearts and for paying your outrageous salaries. You're making record numbers for the league and the popularity of the NHL has never been higher. How much more do you want?
The part that really gets me in this statement that the NHL made is that they will be "committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams." Around the clock. Really? If you were so committed then why didn't you work around the clock last week and the weeks prior to get a deal done. What a joke.
I love hockey. I know the game like the back of my hand. It's the only sport that I actually watch, and I will watch again. This time, however, I'll have a very bitter taste in my mouth and it's going to take a lot for me to get over this. The NHL has made a fool out of itself and of me, and every other NHL fan out there.
Get it together and give me my hockey back. It's the very least that you can do.