Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not if I lock you out first

I really didn’t want to write on the lockout.  I do not find it interesting, it makes me angry, and I don’t think either side should be afforded many of my thoughts.  However, as this lockout progresses into October, I decided to address it.

At first I wasn’t too upset about the lockout.  Yes I was disappointed that it was happening all over again, but I started school in September and thought that this would be great since there wouldn’t be Sens and Leaf games to distract me.  I wouldn’t have to worry about a night being taken away from me by making the trek to Scotiabank Place to take in a game live (woe is me). 

I am currently enrolled in the post-grad Journalism program at Algonquin College so I can attempt to break into the sports journalism world.  My passion is hockey.  I love watching it, talking about it, and analyzing it.  Covering the NHL would be my dream job. 

As an aspiring journalist, I want to cover the NHL.  I want to be someone that people turn to for analysis and what’s happening in the game.  But as this lockout continues, I become more turned off the idea of covering this organization.  Both sides have stubbornly assumed a stance whereby they expect the other to blink first. For the time being, the owners can use revenues to offset the loss from this year, and many of the players can find other leagues.  Basically, the stakes are not high enough for either side because they can both tolerate the other’s worst threat. And that threat is mirrored:  “Cave or we’ll lose the season”.  “Go ahead, we’re fine with that”.

With this latest lockout settling in, and with substantive talk petered out, I am resigned to the fact that this season is pretty much lost.  Pierre Mcguire recently said on The Team 1200 that at this time eight years ago, both sides were much more actively working towards a resolution.  The mass exodus of players taking off to Europe didn’t happen until after American Thanksgiving when it was increasingly clear that the season wasn’t going to be saved, for example.

Now in 2012 players are wasting little time in signing contracts to the leagues throughout Europe.  They’re not staying to fight for their season here in North America.  And as an aside, I don’t agree with the argument that NHL players are taking jobs away from players over in Europe.  European players have been paying in North America for decades and have taken jobs away from North American hockey players.  If a resolution appeared imminent, players would stay rather than bother adjusting to a new continent, and new team.

This lockout is hugely damaging to the NHL, more so than the last one.  More than previous editions, this one is just about money and egos. Millionaires vs billionaires, arguing over how to split a 50% increase in revenue over the short seven year life of the last CBA. Fans cannot and will not relate to this.  The NHL better be careful because they can, and will, lose fans and momentum that they gained in the past seven years.  And there is the serious risk of losing people who love the sport, but cannot stand the way both owners and players are recklessly disregarding the sole source of that lucrative revenue. With another work stoppage dragging on, the NHL’s worst case scenario may now be playing out. Rather than anger, the league’s loyal fan base is dangerously teetering on the edge of indifferent accustomization.

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