Recovering from the Wreckage
Photo credit: Toronto Star
The NHL lockout lasted 113 days. It took a 16-hour marathon negotiation session for the league and its players to make labour peace. But the numbers in this bitter dispute only speak one part of the battle.
No, the next battle ahead for the two sides is how they will win back the hearts and minds of the fans who committed their time and money to a game which in their eyes has betrayed them and left them jaded.
As happy as Canucks fans should be that the lights of Rogers Arena will soon glow blue and green and the bowl will be packed with fans once again, let’s not lose sight of what has exactly transpired here.
Back in September it was both sides saying that the other wasn’t keen on making a deal. They threw verbal barbs at one another, arguing over who should get a bigger piece of our money. And that’s what made this lockout so angry to fans; it wasn’t a philosophical dispute like putting a salary cap in place like in 2004-05, it was about sheer money, dollars and cents.
Fans have every right to be angry and upset, the two sides have acknowledged that. They’ve both pledged to win us back, and I’m sure whatever tactics they have up their sleeve will help them retain a lot of that fan loyalty. But this isn’t a cry to all fans to boycott the league and it’s players on opening night. It’s a reminder that this lockout shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place and a reminder for fans to be mindful about just how much money they decide to put back into the NHL for the foreseeable future.
What will the NHL do? Splash the bluelines of all 30 arenas with “Thank You Fans…Again!”? Offer the NHL Gamecenter package for free (which they, technically, make little to no profit off anyway)?
To use a phrase which was bandied about far too often during the lockout negotiations: “It’s a start, but there’s a lot of work to do”. The two will have to do something outrageous to repair the damage which has fractured NHL fans.
I’m not saying we can’t embrace the game when the puck finally drops. I’m just saying you have every right to still be mad when it does.