Buried in last week's hype of non-existent girlfriends, Lance Armstrong shockingly admitting that the rest of the world was right about him, and the Lakers cursing David Stern while Chris Paul lights up their building was the end of the work stoppage in the NHL. On Saturday, the Kings and the Blackhawks kicked off the abbreviated season with Hawks winning over the defending Stanley Cup champions, 5-2. Fans seemed to return, if only for a little while. It did not show loyalty to the sport as much as it showed our society's short term memory. Here is a reminder on why fans should just stay home.
5) There are better options right now. The NFL playoffs have been exciting, and the HarBowl looks to be a great match of motivational stories, whether it is Colin Kaepernick's rise, Ray Lewis fighting for his last game in a Hall of Fame career, or which brother Jim and John's sister will cheer for. In basketball, Derrick Rose is about to return for Chicago, John Wall just returned for the Wizards, and of course the Blazers are exceeding expectations with the performances of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. If you want hockey, the Portland Winterhawks are winning at a frightening pace. When there are better products available, why bother watching the NHL?
4) The abbreviated season will be a mess. Many players kept themselves in shape through the lockout, but keeping yourself in shape, and being prepared for a grueling NHL season are two entirely different things. Injuries will start to pileup, careers will be shortened, and the product that the NHL will put on the ice will not be the same as past years when the league was recovering from the last stoppage. Speaking of which…
3) Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr are con artists. It is hard to decide which of these two was worse during the work stoppage. Was it the commissioner that has presided over the second work stoppage in less than a decade, including the first time in a half century the Stanley Cup was not contested, or the player representative that forced hard line tactics to create a rift between players and fans IN TWO DIFFERENT SPORTS IN LESS THAN TEN YEARS? Was it the commissioner that brought expansion to areas that could not support a team, ripping them from loyal fanbases, all while pushing for longer season, endangering player safety? Or the player rep that has had six of the eight negotiations that he has ever been a part of create a work stoppage, a record that implies that he should not negotiate a garage sale let alone a billion-dollar business?
2) Remember who the real victims of the work stoppage were. It was not the billionaire owners, who continually spout the same rhetoric about losing money when profits were at an all-time high. It was not the players, who hired possibly the worst negotiator since Neville Chamberlain in order to push the owners into offering concessions, shooting themselves in the foot while trying to make themselves look like the wounded party. The real victims were the business owners around the arenas that counted on the games for income. The workers in the arenas that were kicked on their rear because millionaires argued with billionaires about a level of money that could feed Africa for a year. The fans that trusted the NHL not to make the same mistakes as before, only to see that trust shattered. The owners and players view the fans as expendable. Without the fans, their sport means nothing. Time to resend that message.
1) Why waste your time when they cannot be trusted to keep the game alive? If they do not want the game to continue, oblige them. Without fans, they do not get their money. Remind the NHL who actually holds the power. Walk away from the arena, support other sports, or even minor-league hockey, and let them sit in the graves they dug.