I realize I am in a dwindling minority for even caring about hockey to begin with, and I swore I wasn’t going to write about the NHL lockout because, well, only a smattering handful of people really give a damn. But as you can see, I don’t listen to myself very well.
I have to admit, the lockout was in full swing before I even knew about it. In my defense, I present you with Exhibit A, which is the fact that I am a Tampa Bay Lightning fan. After you finish wondering “Who?”, I will proceed with my explanation. The Lighting have not competently handled a puck since 2004, so my rabid following of hockey has tapered off considerably. Plus, with a record like that, networks aren’t exactly clamoring to air Lightning games around here, so I’ve been forced to show my team spirit by checking the score online the next morning (i.e., looking up how badly my team was mangled the night before).
So imagine my surprise when I checked the team’s schedule and discovered the entire pre-season had been cancelled due to the lockout. Didn’t we just do this? I missed hockey in 2005, the year after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, due to a damn lockout. I still haven’t dropped the massive chip on my shoulder from that one, and now we have another one on our hands?
It is preposterous enough that overgrown boys pushing a puck around ice demand and receive million dollar contracts to basically play meaningless games for a living. (I love hockey, but come on, they are not curing life-threatening diseases here.) To toss a tantrum and refuse to play on demands of more money during a still-suffering economy in which real people fight, scratch, and claw for basic survival is astonishingly self-indulgent and gluttonous.
No one seated at these ego-filled negotiations sees the irony of hashing out rights to over $3 billion in NHL revenue, while so many people without such privilege are struggling to keep their homes, put enough food on the table, or find a job in the first place? No one feels the overwhelming urge to reach across the table, slap their overpaid neighbor in the pampered face, and at least start bringing their soaring egos back down to Earth?
Kevin Allen of USA Today said, “Some fans are saying they will protest the lockout by not renewing their season tickets, but history also shows the vast majority will come back because they love the game.”
I do love the game. But this is one fan who won’t be dropping a penny on game tickets, jerseys, t-shirts or anything else NHL-related until the players start loving the game…and respecting the fans…they way they should.