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Hockey’s back – but are the fans?

By: Rory MacDonald-Gauthier & Tyler Follett 

NHL hockey is back, but should we care?

Lock-out? Get the puck out!

By: Rory MacDonald-Gauthier

The moment the puck dropped, all was forgiven in my eyes.

Immediately I was drawn into the action, not having witnessed a regulation game since the L.A Kings won the Stanley Cup last year, I didn’t waste a moment. I started tweeting. I started blogging. I rushed out to Scotiabank Place to buy a brand new Senators jersey before the pre-game show.

Regardless of the lockout happening, the fans will always come back. As hard as we try to resist the urge of watching NHL hockey, we can’t stay away from the sport. The bar-downs, the top cheese, the dangles. Hockey is Canada’s game. Or well, half of it – the other half is lacrosse. But I can only dream of the day where we can follow another sport with such passion and such dedication.

One hundred and nineteen days. It took the NHL and NHL’s Player Association that long to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement that the majority of fans thought could be settled in a night if both parties just sat down and hammered out a deal.

Hell, Boston Pizza even offered both parties all the pizza they could eat, had they sat down and not left the table until a deal was settled.

With the lockout over, where does this leave fans? Do we forgive the NHL and NHLPA for their sins – leaving us without hockey for such a long period of time – or we do boycott the organizations?

Frankly, as a fan, I’m just glad the lockout is over. I won’t give forgiveness, and I certainly won’t forget. I’ll remember it as the year that the evil Gary Bettman and his lackeys delayed hockey, and the valiant Donald Fehr and company strove to fight for us – the fans – in bringing the NHL back into our homes.

But let’s be honest. Did anyone really focus on the specifics of the lockout? Did anyone really question why the NHL wouldn’t accept a 50/50 split of hockey related revenue between players and owners? Were we concerned about contract lengths to the point that we would never watch hockey again, had our standards not been met?

Before the announcement of the end of the lockout, we were. We all sat here and complained. We said that the owners were greedy for wanting too much. We said the players were too greedy because they already made millions. We said both sides were greedy. Sure, there was a die-hard group of fans around the world following the lockout day in and day out (myself included), but the majority of fans threw all the animosity towards the lockout out the window when it was over. Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, publicly apologized to the fans and said that he was not only sorry about the lockout, but excited to have hockey back.

Great Gary, thanks. You know what Eugene Melnyk, the general manager of the Ottawa Senators did when he met a fan during training camp? He gave him season tickets on the spot and apologized. That is how you make amends.

For me personally the only apology I needed was in the form of a day jam-packed with hockey games; 13 to be exact. Thirteen is what I received.

 

It’s time to lock-out the NHL

By: Tyler Follett

The lockout is over; cause for celebration and rejoice. Cue the return of rabid hockey fans everywhere, happily giving the NHL their hard-earned money in return for jerseys, tickets, and concessions. I say no that. That isn’t how it should work. Fans should exercise the right to lock the NHL out of their lives.

Millionaires arguing with billionaires over millions of dollars is one way to describe the lockout. Greed from both parties is another fair statement to make. Meanwhile the fans that players and owners have to thank for their support, suffer. What a backwards world these individuals live in, to think you can treat fans in such a manner. The mere possibility of that occurring in European soccer would be enough to cause a civil war.

The amount of people out of work because of the lockout is a staggering figure, another negative impact. From arena employees, to bars and establishments, layoffs have been aplenty and business has suffered. Bars have been forced to let staff go due to relying heavily on the sports crowds of people who watch the games there. The lockout has harmed numerous businesses and made many lives more difficult.

All of this bickering between the two sides over a 50/50 split? An agreement should have come in September, preventing us from missing any games. Gary Bettman, you’re to blame. Donald Fehr, you’re just as guilty. The importance those two men played in this lockout is not lost on fans. Fehr is the man responsible for the 1994 MLB lockout. The day NHL players chose Fehr to head their union is the day they began to take blame for the lockout that was to come.

Teams are now left to make reparations to fans, as they are trying a variety of things to win back the fans. The Tampa Bay Lightning offered season tickets in the 200 level for 200 dollars, an entire season in seats that would cost more than that for one game in Toronto. The Florida Panthers offered jerseys to fans with the purchase of tickets, while the Ottawa Senators and many other teams have had free ticket giveaways and free games for children. But is it enough? Every team should be doing these acts for every game of this shortened season.

I attended the Senators training camp when it opened, only because it was free and I didn’t want to give the NHL any of my money. Waiting in line for concessions, I shouldn’t have been surprised to be greeted by the appalling concession prices, with food and a drink costing as much as a ticket in the nosebleeds. Not the best first impression on hockey-starved fans upset about the lockout.

Sports fans have long memories. They will support their team through thick and thin, but the strength of this support is currently being tested.

Fans will be turning to internet streams over cable to avoid giving the NHL a dime; I support them and plan on doing the same. The NHL can earn back our fandom, but should never again take our support for granted.

1 COMMENT

  • Tyler

    I forgive the Sens. Even Eugene Melnyk was gutsy enough to break the silence when things got ugly and say there should have already been an agreement. I have no qualms about contributing to the Sens.

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