Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hockey Tough Love

If you weren't aware, (not many are) the NHL got their act together and finally hammered out a Collective Bargaining Agreement to finally end the lockout after last season got flushed down the toilet by greedy corporate asshats.

Since the league is back in business, they now have to figure out how to lure back all the fans that they drove off last year squabbling over money. Now that the corporate sponsors have bailed and the TV contract has vanished so ESPN can air more important things, the fans are pretty much the only revenue source left. So in the interests of cost certainty, the league is certain to pull out all the stops to try to get the fans back. The last league to fark up this badly managed to get the fans back with some longballs and juiced up scoring. Since juicing up the players is not really an option anymore, the NHL is instituting some new rules to try to up the scoring, including: eliminating the red line to increase the number of home-run breakaway passes, shrinking the increasingly ridiculous goalie equipment, reinstating the tag up rule for offsides, discouraging icing and finally enforcing the interference rules (I'll believe it when I see it) to open up the ice for the skilled skaters. Add to this the draft lottery that gave the Penguins Mario Jr. or Gretkzy II (or Baby Lindros if Pittsburgh's recent luck holds), today's entry draft and the upcoming free-for-all free agent period this offseason and you have some interesting things to look forward to.

Still, the powers that be are interested to gauge just how much money they stand to lose from last winter's foolishness and have contracted a survey to find out the gory details. I took the survey, and thought my faithful readers might be interested in a couple of my answers.

Why do you say that your overall interest level in the NHL has decreased significantly since the beginning of the NHL work stoppage?

My interest has decreased in the NHL because there was absolutely no reason for the season to be cancelled. The Owners and Union had actually agreed on a cap (supposedly the big sticking point) before the drop-dead date, and all the two sides had to do was split the difference at the end, and voila, we have a season (and more importantly, Stanley Cup Playoffs). Instead, Goodenow and Bettman refused to back down even when they were only a couple of million apart on the salary cap. News flash: the only difference between the owner's max cap and the player's max cap offer the day the season was cancelled for no reason was a couple of extra million dollars that maybe 4 or 5 teams would be able to spend in the larger markets (Detroit, New York, etc.). Instead, so Bettman can have his f---ing 'cost certainty' he tanked the season and made for damn certain that the NHL will not be relevant for decades. Hey Bettman, here's another 'cost certainty' for you, you SOB: the NHL will certainly NOT get one solitary penny out of me until you either a)resign b)are fired c)are devoured by a rampaging herd of wildebeest d)are abducted by aliens for anal probing (maybe they'll find your brain) e) the earth cracks open under your feet and you fall down into the pits of hell where the Devil himself will force you to watch college basketball, Texas hold-em poker and any show involving Stewart Scott or Chris Berman mugging for the camera on ESPN forever.

Why has the work stoppage negatively affected your interest level in purchasing NHL merchandise items in the future?

Why should I support a league that doesn't give a damn about their fans? All the league had to do is get their act together long enough to save the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year. But no, the owners and players couldn't get together enough to hammer out a cap number even when the players finally capitulated and agreed to a salary cap. The league chose money over fans, so why would you be surprised that the fans are now choosing money over the league? Again, fire the fools that caused this crisis in the first place (one down, one to go) and I might decide to pick up that hideous new Thrashers alternate jersey.
There was more, but why incriminate myself further. Feel free to take the survey yourself and add your own comments...

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