I propose that all media stop covering the NHL lockout. No stories, no features, not even a 140-character Tweet – until there’s actually a deal in place.
Right now it’s just 50 shades of navel gazing. Don’t tell us that another month of games has been cancelled. Don’t tell us that meetings will only involve “non-core” issues. And for the love of Pete, don’t you dare tell us that there are no negotiations planned at all.
As hockey fans, we’re well aware that nothing’s happening. And until games are actually scheduled, we really don’t want to think about NHL hockey. We are busy finding other things to do with our time and money, thank you very much.
It simply doesn’t matter who is winning and who is losing this stupid tug-of-war when nothing is happening.
The players aren’t negotiating because they want the owners to improve their last offer. The owners aren’t negotiating because they aren’t interested in improving their offer. So there simply isn’t any talking at all, and every day more games are lost.
The truth is, they’re not testing each others’ resolve. No, they’re actually testing the fans’ resolve.
See, last time there was a work stoppage in 2004, things went beyond the point anyone thought possible and an entire season was wiped out. No regular season, no playoffs, no Stanley Cup. The NHL was destroyed, right?
Nope. When games resumed in 2005, fans came back in droves. Season ticket sales picked up where they left off, arenas sold out, jerseys and merchandise flew off the shelves and within two years, revenues were right back where they were before both sides nuked an entire NHL season from the history books.
So … what’s the hurry to rush back to the bargaining table this time? If fans came back after one lost season, why not wipe out two seasons? Or even three? Surely hardcore Canadian fans will still come to the arenas after three seasons have been lost. What else are they going to do? And since Canadian dollars are used to prop up some of those struggling American teams, it’s all good, right?
That’s why I propose we stop talking about this stupid lockout. If there’s anything both sides fear, it’s not angry fans – it’s apathetic fans. If we don’t care whether it’s the millionaires or the billionaires win this battle, neither will win.
The next step is focusing on other sports: Baseball until November, football until February and basketball until summer when baseball starts up again. Somehow, 50 American states manage to give hockey only passing interest during the winter – Canada can do the same. C’mon, we aren’t so isolated anymore that we can’t zip down to Minnesota, Detroit, New York or Seattle if we need to catch a live pro game if we need that release. Thanks to services like StubHub or SeatGeek, it’s easier than ever to get good, reliable tickets to any game, anywhere, any time.
Oh sure, we can catch a local minor league game here or there to support our communities, and it’s great for kids to get off the couch and play a sport like hockey. But NHL hockey? Pfffft. No thanks.
It’s like quitting smoking. The first step is getting rid of cigarettes. Then it comes down to creating new habits that don’t involve smoking. Next thing you know, you’re in situations where you used to smoke and you don’t want a cigarette anymore.
The same can apply to hockey. It’s time to quit the NHL cold turkey.
Oh sure, it won’t be easy.
But if we can change our sports habits now while these greedy bastards are holding the game hostage, maybe we won’t need it anymore. And if they ever do come back, we won’t be weak enough to allow them to put us through this ever again.