Originally published on Giga Punch- 09/17/2012: http://www.gigapunch.com/2012/09/17/nhl-lockout-how-to-look-on-the-bright-side/
Posted by Jimmy Dolan on September 17, 2012 in Featured, NHL
The news we were all hoping not to hear has been delivered: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has locked out the players as negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) remain at a standstill. This marks the third time Gary Bettman has locked out NHL players in his nineteen years as commissioner, and the most recent 2004-05 lockout, which cancelled the entire season, is recent enough to be fresh in the disgruntled memories of hockey fans everywhere. Of course, for the average fan, there’s plenty to be angry about and there’s no good news surrounding the CBA talks: loyal paying customers of the NHL will miss out on yet another season, businesses owners who rely on hockey fans for revenue in Winter will take a huge hit, and the sport overall will most likely take a popularity hit as sports fans shift their collective focus elsewhere (read: LA Kings). The tickets I scored on eBay to see my Blues play at Staples in November are likely to be worthless come game day.
But not all is lost for us. Jerseys might have to collect a bit more dust in the closet than we’d like, but fans don’t have to lose out completely.
The owners of professional sports teams speak the language of something we’re all familiar with: money. And let’s be honest, this is what the lockout is all about. There’s plenty of buzzwords being thrown around when the CBA is discussed- share of revenue, anticipated growth, economic impact- but it all boils down to money. That’s one area where fans have some power. The guys behind the social media campaign “You Have Two Weeks” have organized a boycott of companies owned by any NHL owner. And in a recent update, their open letter to the owners states “This boycott will end when the first puck drops.” They’ve been aggressively hitting up twitter with the hashtag #youhavetwoweeks and even started an online pettition via change.org. Obviously, this
boycott won’t make a sizable dent in the revenue of giants like Molson/Coors, but it certainly has the potential to make them notice. Think about how many hockey fans you know. Now imagine if all of you stopped financially supporting the boycott’s list of companies. What if your friends’ friends joined in? You see where this is going. The basic idea is to put pressure on Bettman and team owners since they understand financial loss just as much as they do gain.
Of course, your Winter doesn’t have to be entirely hockey-free. One great overlooked opportunity this lockout provides is to get better acquainted with team affiliates in the minor leagues. Here in Southern California, I plan on making trips to the Inland Empire to catch an Ontario Reign game, as well as heading North a couple of hours to see the Bakersfield Condors. Throughout the season, news from the AHL gets overlooked by many fans, unless it concerns an anticipated call-up to the big leagues. Many teams have affiliates in the same region or close enough to make a day trip out of a game. The online world is already blowing up as the hockey subreddit has a “Change your logo” thread to voice support for Reddit users’ favorite NCAA or minor league team while the lockout is in effect. This opportunity, to see a new lesser-known team in a new town, will also allow hockey fans an eye on up-and-comers for future seasons, while familiarizing themselves with a side of hockey that sometimes goes unnoticed.
And then there’s the third option for suffering through Bettman’s rain on the sports’ fans parade: pray. Hope and wish and pray that CBA talks get going again. Keep your fingers tightly crossed that training camp can still open with enough time to begin the regular season. Have faith that someone will come to their senses and would rather see a season of hockey instead of a season of greed.