Roy MacGregor is a terrific writer and his column in the Globe and Mail today about the NHL lockout and the possibilities that come along with it rang truer than true with me.

Rather than look at yet another work stoppage on the watch of Gary Bettman as some sort of national tragedy — it will be seen as that by many across the country — because NHL teams won’t be able to take our dollars for tickets, beer, hotdogs and TV packages and players won’t collect their vast salaries, why not embrace the event? A couple paragraphs in his piece really hit home:

"There is something seriously afflicted in a nation when it can be argued, with some pitiful justification, that the average parent would choose having a child play a single game in the NHL than become a neurosurgeon for life."

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"In a country where grown men have been known to weep while watching a Tim Hortons coffee commercial, it’s pretty obvious that we have come to let a child’s game dominate to a point where it is unhealthy, if not downright sick."

Ring a bell?


I get the sentiment behind a piece like the item Jonathan Willis wrote today, I really do, but it strikes me as remarkably naïve if anybody thinks cutting back on their consumption of beer and nachos at a hockey game or refusing to buy that Taylor Hall jersey they’ve been eye-balling represents a meaningful way of sending a message to Bettman or Donald Fehr.

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If you’re still buying walk-up tickets or season tickets or still purchasing that cable TV package, providing owners with their biggest revenue streams and the ability to keep over-paying players – or you will whenever the owners and the NHLPA decide to again grace us with hockey – then NHL fans truly are, as Bettman intimated not long ago, the best fans in the world.

If you’re not willing to walk away from the NHL and stay away long enough for the waiting lists for season tickets to dry up, for owners to see sections of empty seats in their buildings and for TV ratings to fall off the map, the only message you’re sending is Bettman was right about you.

"I’ll keep buying tickets and keep watching on TV, but I’m going to eat a ham sandwich at home instead of buying concession food and . . ." Please. If just 10 per cent of the people who swear they’re done with the NHL would actually keep that promise when the puck drops again, you’d be on to something and have at least a reasonable chance of sending owners and players a message.


I hope the owners and the players take in the wallet over this latest bit of greed and stupidity. With all the big dollars both sides are willing to piss away in the name of holding their ground, or whatever is motivating this latest round of asinine posturing, I feel bad for the wage earners this will impact.

A lot of people who won’t earn in one year what Hall or Jordan Eberle make in one week – ticket takers, ushers, people in support services and who earn a living in other spin-off businesses – are the ones who pay the price. Staff cuts with NHL teams are coming or already have come. Lay-offs and salary roll backs. Those are the people who take it in the ear during a work stoppage.

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Sooner or later, of course, the puck will drop again and fans, those faced with filling untold hours with family time that doesn’t include sitting like lumps in front of the television or trudging to Rexall Place, will flock back with ticket dollars in hand when the lockout ends. They always do.

That message has already been sent, and received, loud and clear.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Minister D-

    Take your time boys (owners and players). I am happy to save the money I would spend going to games. I have renewed again this year. I do love the game … when it is played well, something we haven’t seen much of, except for 2006. I am also a loyal Oiler fan, but I feel that the people who make the money here (both sides) see us as dupes who can be played. I will save my money and use it for something else…maybe a holiday. Like others above stated, I will probably maintain my tickets, but in the future, I won’t go to the 25+ games I used to go to. I will sell off as many tickets as I can and go to a lot fewer games… maybe eight or ten. I know two guys who have had tickets for years and sold all of their games last year… a wise decision considering the number of garbage games we saw. I am also delighted with the fact that my tickets go up in price every year, then the salary cap goes up, then my tickets go up, and on and on. I’m also delighted that with Bettman’s southern U.S. strategy, my ticket increases continue to subsidize hockey in markets where they are loosing huge amounts of money. Someone I know got four tickets in the lower bowl in Phoenix with four sodas and four hot dogs for less than one of my tickets row 32. That really warms my heart. And finally, I have supported the new arena all along, and defended it many times, but feel Katz really sandbagged City Council with his latest demands. I was at the public council hearings last October . The mayor and councillors who support the arena were attacked viciously by some of the speakers, including some nasty personal attacks there were well over the line. They stuck by their convictions about what is in the long-term interests of Edmonton and have worked hard, expending political capital, only to have Katz pull this stunt. So, Bettman, Katz, LaForge, Lowe, players, keep it up.
    By the way if the oil price drops and stays down for a few years, you might not take us dupes for granted as much when there are two or three thousand empty seats in the arena. Oh, and as I said before, take your time. The longer you are out, the more time I have to find other things I enjoy spending my money on. And, by the way, I am not a business, so all I spend going to games comes from after tax dollars.

  • Spydyr

    As a young boy hockey was my world.As I grew older it slowly became less and less so.The day 99 got traded something died a little inside me.Since that day that love for hockey has slowly dwindled away.Through every lockout.Every star leaving for more money.Every entitled player.Every greedy owner asking for more money from the Government.Our money.

    The business side of the game has ruined that little boys love for hockey.

    Still catch most games on the tube .Go to a few each year.Just don’t care as much as I once did.The older one gets the more they realize what really is important and life.Heath, family, friends.

    The love for the game is still there and always will be.It is in my blood and the blood of many here I think.

    Just not as strong as yesterday.

  • CaptainLander

    Dear God, It’s me Margaret,

    My parents are fighting again. This time dad(NHLPA) was locked out. Can you believe it? Mom(NHL) changed the locks! I don’t understand. They keep saying it’s not just about money, but during their last fight, thats all they talked about. Mom started yelling “you’re spending 57% of our income on toys and cars and tv’s; that’s only leaving me 43% to run the house.” All dad said was “I like it this way. What’s your problem? Are we not making more money than before.” If not to complicate things more, she brings up my grandparents, “you know that my mom and dad are not doing well down in Phoenix. I want to send down some money, but we just can’t afford to.” Mom isn’t happy. Dad’s like “why do we always need to help. You and brother wanted them there. It would make more sense to move them back up here, a place were they can maybe make some money. They’re still young and this way they won’t need Work Visas.” Either way, all I know is that I’m sitting here, at home, thinking, “Won’t it be nice if we could just all go skating today.” But mom has the door locked, and dad’s left moving between all of his brothers(KHL, SEL, AHL). All I know is that they’re both a bunch of asses. I’m the one left out here. Now what am I suppose to do? I feel more screwed over than ever before.


  • The Soup Fascist

    I would say I am typically anti-union. If I had to pick sides here I would also side with ownership. Not because they are doing anything wonderful but at the end of the day they take the financial risk.

    But I have to say every time I see that sawed off little jerk with his swarmy smirk and condescending head shake I get more pissed off.

    The problem is Bettman does not truly love the game. He loves his position, loves the power, but in terms of the passion for the game, does not “get” it. Fehr is no better, but he isn’t pretending to be worried about “the greatest fans in the world”

    I used to support Bettman during the EIG’s earlier days as Bettman was a reason it all came together. I could not understand why Oiler fans booed the guy. But I am starting to see it.

    Get two guys in the room who understand the game. This could be resolved in a weekend. They are going to end up around 50 / 50. Be it this week or next year. Stop with the egos and self-importance and get it done.

    • DieHard

      A 50/50 split is what it should probably be but it can’t be done immediately or the players take a clawback which they will not do. It would have to come over time with an increasing growth of revenue which the owners think is too much risk for them. I side with the owners as I think growth of revenue is NOT going to happen.

      • Minister D-

        A little socialism could help the NHL just as it has helped the NFL. With better revenue sharing, and perhaps a gradual work-back to a 50/50 split with players, there would not be a revenue problem.

        • DieHard

          The NFL has an 8 game home schedule and virtually every game everywhere is sold out at comparable prices. It’s the TV rights that are socialistically shared (which is valid). That is a big difference.

    • ubermiguel

      Too many people forget Bettman is half the reason the Oilers are still in Edmonton (Cal Nichols and the rest of the EIG being the other half). We were close to losing the team, we hung on by our fingernails, then the introduction of the salary cap meant we could be competitive again (could you imagine getting Chris Pronger pre-cap?!?!).

      But yeah, this new lock-out is different. Bettman has forgotten that that a strong healthy league needs happy players and fans.

  • I can’t believe the comments on here from Minister D, Mumbai Max, etc. who suggest that quitting an NHL job is the same as quitting attendance of games as a fan, or not buying a jersey.

    The writers here are more similar to the guy at RX1 selling beers, or to Gene Principe than to actual fans. Suggesting to Brownlee that he “follow suit” with his suggestion to fans and quit his job(s) is stupidity.

    We’re all mad, but pull your heads out.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Well if I were to open an auto glass shop I would do it here in Edmonton.

    Every winter we sand the roads with rocks. The big trucks on the roads shoot those rocks into windshields and they chip. When the windshield freezes and is thawed when driving the chip turns into a crack. And voila, the windshield needs to be replaced.

    It’s a license to print money.

  • ubermiguel

    Robin or anyone else, I hope someone can answer this question. The fight this time is over hockey related revenues (HRR). So how do NHLplayers draw on HRR?

    Does it go towards a NHLPA pension? Do the players get a dividend cheque each year? And more importantly, which players are entitled to HRR?

    I’m confused as I assumed players earnings only came from contracts negotiated by their agents. I’m really curious what the average payout to each player is for their share of HRR. Is it so significant it’s worth losing another season to?

  • Robin, you seem to be taking somewhat of a hard stance on this topic so I’ll do the same in response to your article.

    If your opinion expressed herein truly means anything to you, you will not be seen or heard from again on Oilers Nation or the Team 1260 (or at least until it affects financially the NHL).

    And for the other writers on this or similar sites who agree with your take, the same goes. Otherwise, you’re all sending Bettman the same message — the message you’re suggesting we as fans not send.

    If to truly make the NHL and the players accountable, you suggest even 10% of fans should walk away from the game, find something or somewhere else to spend their money and not come rushing back to the season when it finally resumes, this site and just 10% of others like it will cease to exist long enough to prove a point — a point that shows the NHL and the players, they are making a mistake.

    Why suggest you and us fans are so different? If the “media” aren’t in the same boat as us fans and as you suggest your situation to us as fans is an apples to oranges comparison; understand that writers, bloggers, journalists and media too should show in some way or another they will not support the NHL product by “flocking back” and covering their every move.

    There is only one major flaw in that and your rationale. Media need, or in your case, “want” these jobs and the paychecks that come with them. TV stations want the ratings that come from broadcasting the NHL. Employees want the jobs that come from working for the teams that employ them. And if not for the money, you and all these other people involve themselves in the NHL because of their enjoyment of it. Bettman is well aware of that also.

    Fans want the best hockey in the NHL. We love the NHL. Some like you may get paid to cover it, while others just want to enjoy the game and we’ll miss it while it’s gone.

    We as fans keep the NHL running. Sites like this serve to promote the game and keep us interested. If you stop writing about the NHL now and for an extended period of time when it returns, many fans will have less overall interest. Will our interest leave completely? Of course not. But if all these sites left and the promotion they bring the NHL stopped, I’ll bet it would affect the NHL revenue more than us not buying a beer and nachos.

    The Oilers and the NHL know this, but they assume like you do about us fans, that you’ll keep writing and covering the team while it’s locking it’s players out and we have no NHL to watch.

    It’s all advertising for the NHL and the product it sells its fans. It helps sell tickets, it helps keep the game and the team in our top of mind awareness and we feed off it just anticipating the next game we can catch.

    I may be wrong in the access your granted, but I assume, it’s why you get press passes, have access and partially why your job has existed in the sports realm for so many years… so that this and other sites like it will promote the NHL to the masses and keep their beaks wet. It’s why some NHL teams have started granting inside access to bloggers.

    I love this website and I’d hate to see it gone for even a day. While I don’t personally like your opinions in many of your articles (I find much of the writing to be very arrogant and obnoxious), I do have respect for your talent as a writer. Your gifted in that respect and another reason I believe you could write about anything you choose. I suggest, if you want to prove a point and take the stance your’re taking, be one of your 10% to make a difference and start doing so today and not come back for a while.

    If I didn’t read articles on Oilers Nation daily, including yours Robin, I wouldn’t be nearly as educated about the Oilers, nor would I want to watch the NHL as often.

    Maybe if as fans we should be held to a standard to prove a point by walking away, writer’s like you should take a dose of your own medicine and not come back to cover the team or any NHL team when it returns. By writing about them, you’re simply promoting the publicity of the NHL and getting us fans interested in a game we love with the players we want to see.

    What you wrote may be what you believe in this article, but your very next article and others after it will only serve to keep us interested in the game we “want” to come back and watch. Covering the team helps us not become one of that 10%.

    Too harsh? Maybe make a vow that you’ll only write about the Oil Kings for this season instead of the Oilers. If I’m not mistaken, same team owner and padding same wallet, but hey, it’s a start.

    Although, I’m guessing just by covering another league, readership will drop, website hits will go down and Wanye and others might be less than happy about that. Bettman is well aware of this too.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Bettman is well aware of Wanye?

      Excellent. He IS personally seeing Wanye’s petition to rename the NHL the “EAABOOGL”.

      Eberle and a Bunch of Other Guys League.

      I had doubts that would get by Napole … Er … Bettman’s screeners.

    • “I can’t believe the comments on here from Minister D, Mumbai Max, etc. who suggest that quitting an NHL job is the same as quitting attendance of games as a fan, or not buying a jersey.

      The writers here are more similar to the guy at RX1 selling beers, or to Gene Principe than to actual fans. Suggesting to Brownlee that he “follow suit” with his suggestion to fans and quit his job(s) is stupidity.

      We’re all mad, but pull your heads out.”

      — Dodd (comment 56)

      • “Maybe NOW Brownlee will reply to my repeated invites to discuss how Glen Sather broke Jason Bonsignor over organic beer and gluten-free goodies…”

        – Dodd

        “Quitting the job that feeds your family is the same as me not going to a game.”

        – BoboBrazil

  • The Soup Fascist

    I agree with Robin’s sentiment here.

    As far as the lockout goes, I find the role of the media to be almost as frustrating as the lockout itself.

    The modern hockey media is littered with guys like Kypreos and Aaron Ward, guys who clearly have an agenda to push the virtue of ‘their side’.

    Less so this time around, the owners have their guys as well.

    It becomes a PR war that does a complete disservice to the state of the game itself.

    Why can’t the fans get representation? A fan from Edmonton or Minnesota isn’t going to protest outside an Manhatten office but they sure as hell have an opinion on what’s going on.

    I would think the media could play a productive role by telling the fan’s stories, at nauseum like every other lockout story, to give the owners and the players a glimpse at how the ‘best fans in the world’ actually feel. I truly think both sides have dilluted themselves from reality on this topic.

    It may just, in a passive agressive manner, also influence a bit of a fan exedous in the process..which wouldn’t be such a bad thing for the game long term either.

  • knee deep in it

    I am already spending money on alternative entetainment, I just purchased an exhaust can for my snowmobile. It wasn’t an act of defiance, just a reality that I will sled this winter and I might end up doing a lot more of it than usual.

    My spending money is purely discretionary. I have no hard feeling for either side as business gets messy. The bad news for the NHL is that I have almost no feelings at all about this strike. It will happen and, when it is over, I will probably watch hockey again.

    I used to be a hardcore fan. Not so much any more.

  • DSG


    This lockout is about one thing. Weak Southern US markets and who pays for them… Teams which drive profit for the NHL want the players to bear the cost of supporting PHX, CLB, TB, FLA, NSH, ANA, CAR… Players want the richer clubs to transfer money to those weaker teams.

    TOR, MTL, NYR, BOS have to be driving the negotiations then and they aren’t going to let this go easy… Especially Toronto. If they give into the players demands it virtually assures that PHX will be gone within 2 years max. Most likely to Quebec and with the state of the US economy and their club, it is fair to say that CLB isn’t far behind them…

    Where is CLB going to want to move? Markham or Hamilton… Leafs Nation doorstep, one that has an arena and one area that is building a arena… Home of millions of Leafs fans… No way the big club is going to want to split that… Sure was a smart sale by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan wasn’ it?

    Personally, I am rooting for the players. They win and it means I don’t have to watch PHX or CLB 3 years from now. I would much rather see the Nordiques/ Markham Toros on those cold winter Saturday nights…

  • DSG

    I am NOT getting center ice or any hockey package this year. I’m only one person but I am SICK of BETTMAN and what the league is now. (I may sneak a look at a game or two via an online free site that works great.) The league on either side doesn’t care about much except their $ so I’ll take mine somewhere else!

  • Neil W

    It seems like for things to be fixed in the NHL this lockout has to last at least a year or two. The whole economic system is a faulty one when owners need the revenues for non hockey events just to survive. A simplistic solution to the NHL problems would be for the owners to actually share the 3 billion dollar pot. If the league is going to insist on having teams in locations where they have no business being the they have to share the revenue equally among all the teams. This will ensure that no matter what market you are in you have an equal chance to compete. It may also force the league to re-evaluate the markets they are in and opportunities that may exist in other markets.

    Sharing the revenue equally would leave each team with approximately 100 million dollars in revenue. Take the 100 million and split it 50/50 with the players leaving each team with a 50 million dollar salary cap. Pay the superstars of the league what they deserve since they are the ones fans pay to see and stop signing the middling players to contracts for 3-4 million dollars per year.

    I know this a pretty simple way of looking at things but the owners would end up with a stronger league that is financially viable while the players would be getting their fair share.

    Just a simple, possible solution from a small guy in Alberta.