Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Drinky post: The Lockout

(Author’s note: I would do more drinky posts, but my alcohol-intake is highly correlated with the NHL schedule. In the meantime, I’ve been meaning to post something about the lockout for a while, but haven’t quite been get the words together. Solution? Johnny Walker and a blank screen. I am, in a way, re-writing a lot of this.)

A lot of hockey blog posts I read lately start with something like “Well, since nothing happened AGAIN, here’s something to pass the time.” Now I appreciate web nonsense and general impatience as much as the next guy, but how the heck did we get so oblivious? Are we seriously forgetting that we just went through a bloody lockout? A year of NHL cancelled to us?

(Now I don’t know how things were in other parts of the NHL-starved world, but here in L.A. that meant we were cut off. Maybe twice a month there would be a rerun NCAA hockey game that we’d catch on the DVR, but whatever hockey was going on during the lockout year, it wasn’t being televised in Southern California.)

And as much as the lockout was a struggle between owners and players, really it was a struggle between professional sports and paying fans. A motherfucking year off. Can you imagine it?

Some blame the players for being such greedy bastards and failing to comply with the owners’ reported financial needs. Others blame the owners for being such greedy bastards and trying to legislate their own stupidity. And yes, all that is fair. Everyone involved was a greedy bastard and deserves a winter in hell.

But what about us, the fans? Where is our share of the responsibility?

When I’m at a restaurant, and at the table next to me there are children making a ruckus, I generally don’t hold a grudge against the kids themselves; rather I save my icy stares for the negligent parent(s) who allow(s) their offspring to behave in such a rude and distasteful manner. The fact that these kids need to be whacked isn’t any fault either child (“…but he started it!”); rather the fault lies with the parent/guardian that couldn’t properly discipline their infant monsters.

Well, folks, I am that negligent parent. I let my league take a whole motherfucking year off to settle some off-ice dispute, and instead of disciplining that league, I coddled these brats. Like a chain smoker on an international flight, I itched so bad for hockey that I ran back to the turnstiles, continued to feed this league my money, and half-pretended this whole thing was behind us.

The NHL (and all its self-promoting hoo-ha) tell us that attendance is up to record numbers. Hockey fans like me apparently are pitifully forgiving and painfully obedient. We love the NHL, even when it decides it didn’t love us last year.

But what, really, have we taught the league and its players, who notoriously would rather listen to our wallets than our blogs? That it is OK to misbehave and sit at a negotiating table for a year and a half while we sit around and (insert lockout pastime here)?!!

Now I don’t want to be a doom-and-gloomer (that’s my hero Tom B.!), but there are signs already that neither side quite got what they were bargaining for in this new CBA. So what happens when it expires? What happens when new owners and new players decide on a new agreement to meet new expectations?

Have we taught these stupid kids anything?

“Hey, take a year off, you two. Have a jerkfest with your lawyers and split up your pie; we’ll be here when you get back.”
You know, I really hope it works out for the NHL. I hope they can make tons of money and each and every greedy bastard can go home happy. But lately I'm worried...

I love the sport but not the business, and the year the league misbehaved and prioritized business over sport, I was negligent in my punishment. I, the NHL's lenient parent, gave the league its money (if not more!) and my precious wallet pretended the whole thing never happened.

Hopefully it won’t come to this again, dumbshits. Make your damn deal next time and play your hockey. No more motherfucking years off.



(Next drinky post: Why I hate new rules!)


Tapeleg said...

I'm telling you, WfS, JAHL, and you need to make a drinking blog, maybe call it drunk honest hockey. Good post. I have been thinking about doing a post about being in Boston durring the lockout.

No, these people haven't learned anything. And it seems like every sport is threatened with a stoppage each time a CBA comes up. The money wheels keep turning. We keep paying, we keep buying the jerseys, and get ready for the next one.

Matt Juba said...

I believe that both the owners and NHL players can simply not understand that they screwed themselves over.

With no NHL, the Foxsports, CBSSports, and ESPN's of the world have shoved thousands of college sports (specifically basketball down our throats). They had there wonderful deal with ESPN for televsion rights in the states and yes, it wasn't extravagant (nothing like Hockey Night in Canada.) And then hey, let's all be a-holes together and say up yours to the people that really matter the fans.
They come back and are supposed to forgive and forget. That wasn't going to happen. The NHL scrambled and little known 'OLN' and 'NBC- with minimal major sports coverage besides the Olympics' were right there to give them a bare bottom tv deal, because hey no one else wants you. The NHL is the bastard child of sports, no one will truly claim it and nuture it.
Overall, believe this to be quite sad.
When baseball went on strike and came back the fans, didn't come back right away. It took events like Cal Ripken breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive games mark and the "Great Home Run Chase of '98" (Which has in turned been a joke due to steriods) to win fans back.
Hockey doesn't have this, because they didn't have the super-fan base before. If you live outside a hockey area, can you name anyone on the Atlanta Thrasers?

Matt Juba said...

Did you see that FSN Canada's #1 fantasy sports site http://www.fantasysportsnetwork.com has launched their NHL draft kit and their pool manager site already in preparation for the season.

Doogie said...

The NHL is more like an abusive lover. They'll treat you like shit, but they know you'll keep coming back because you still love them, and as long as they act like they love you, they can keep pulling the same old shit again and again.

zanstorm said...

"as long as they act like they love you..."

Yeah, exactly!

Earl, how much did you drink beforehand? Not much perhaps, because it was a great post that made sense!

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, just a couple.

But it making sense has more to do with trying to write it a few times in the past and just not liking it.

I guess I just needed a bit of liquid courage.

Hodge said...

I'm thinking it had too many swear words, or not enough maybe.lol

I personally do some of my best work while hammered. My bottle of rum one was done after a whole bottle of rum.

PS. The motherfucking Canucks are winning the motherfucking stanley cup this motherfucking year.

Temujin said...

I personally do some of my best work while hammered

Well, yeah, that's what she said.

Your poker skillz sure diminish though...

OddManRush said...

Earl, what kind of punishment do you propose for the owners and players ?

Earl Sleek said...

A fan boycott (specifically around spending on league tickets and merchandise) would be the most effective deterrent, I would think.

What else are they really going to listen to?

But the important thing really needs to be that players and owners understand the repercussions of locking out. There needs to be an explicit threat.

Lock the fans out for 30 days, and the fans will respond by locking out the NHL for the next 30 days, or something like that.

Granted, it will be tough. What precedent is there for fan solidarity, and are people willing to give up seats for such a cause?

Probably not, but that means we probably lack the real ability to control whether a future lockout happens or not. We'll probably be as helpless as the last time.