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."
"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?
WHAT’S THE MESSAGE?
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.
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.
DO SOMETHING ELSE
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.
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.