As we look ahead to the possibility of an NHL lockout, I chatted with 3 Canucks fans about their feelings, their frustrations, and their outlook.
Jolene (@Hockeys1stlady) is a Vancouver-born and Burnaby-raised gal that is head over heels in love with hockey. Jolene believes “the most amazing sport in the world” saved her life when she was going through a rough stretch in her early teens. Jolene currently gets paid to have fun on the radio in Vernon. That high time includes an NHL feature that runs during Vipers’ broadcasts on 1075 Kiss FM. Jolene also writes a blog for Hockeytube.net. When she isn’t being a hockey junkie, Jolene loves to paint, watch ‘Friends’ re-runs and explore the unknown.
Ian (@SirCanuckles) was born in Vancouver, studied at UBC for two degrees and is currently halfway done a professional admission course. He’s lived in Vancouver all the years of his life but one, which he spent toiling on exchange across the pond in the UK. As a Vancouver native, he’s had his heart consistently broken by the Canucks for over 20 years, and has a strong suspicion that his enduring loyalty evidences a dark, masochist side, of his personality.
Jordan (@iskeets0ysauce) was born in Winnipeg and moved to BC in August 2008. He studied Aviation Management at The University Of North Dakota and is currently working in Food Services at Rogers Arena, He’s lived all over the place, including Winnipeg, Fargo (ND), Bismarck (ND), Grand Forks (ND), and East Grand Forks (MN). He’s an avid traveller and explorer and has a fond appreciation for new things (especially food)! He’s been a Canucks fan since 1996 and admits to having man-crushes on Teemu Selanne and Roberto Luongo.
1. What’s one word that you would use to sum up your feelings on this negotiation process or your hopes for an NHL season? Why do you feel this way?
Jolene: Absolutelyfrustratingandutterlydepressing. That’s one word, right? I can’t do another year where the only thing close to watching NHL hockey is a Swedish Elite League game featuring the Linköpings Hockey Club. There are some days the only thing I look forward to is sitting down with some munchies and enjoying a game. I guess you can call it my lifeline.
Ian: As I attempted to answer this question the first time I heard it, I moved through several words and similar words. “Cynical” really felt appropriate for a while, but it feels like it’s missing something important in all of this. Really, my feelings on this are perfectly encapsulated by a sarcastic “Whatever.” Yeah, I’ll miss NHL Hockey. I love the excitement, thrill and ultimate disappointment that comes with being an NHL fan in Vancouver. But I don’t really believe most of what’s being said, I don’t really think that the most vulnerable parties in this dispute are being looked after, and I don’t really think the fans are foremost on anybody’s minds either. Whenever I hear about how “the current system is unsustainable” or how we’re “the best fans in the world”, I think to myself, “Whatever.” I really can’t believe any of that. Nor do I believe things will change all that much. I honestly couldn’t care less how either party, or some in the media try to spin it; this dispute is about two relatively select and closed groups battling over how to split an enormous amount of money, the likes of which you and I will likely never see in our lifetime. Good for them, I guess. Just let me know when it’s done.
Jordan: Teeter-Totter (yes, from the playground). You have both the NHL and the NHLPA sitting on either end, trying to balance things out, but alas they try to slant it their respective ways. It actually saddens me that the negotiation process, while necessary, is taking forever and that it only revolves around the almighty dollar, instead of the pure love of the game (which is what made us all fans).
2. Whose side are you on (if you were forced to pick one)?
Jolene: The Fans! Gary Bettman has been known to make the American audience his top priority. I’m sure the wheel in his head often squeaks, “How can I put more butts in those seats?” Well Bettman, another lockout isn’t going to help you build your dream world. What will happen is thousands of people that have just started to get into the game, will be nowhere to be found when things start back up. Our society can hold some pretty good grudges. In the end, it’s the fans that will suffer.
Ian: Since this appears to be a Bush-ian “You’re either with us or you’re against us” question, I guess the NHLPA. I come down on the side of the party which was not publically willing to casually deprive me of the entertainment and joy said groups provide me for the sake of a few more dollars, of which they already have plenty of. But honestly, I’m not nearly that concerned about the players. My sentiment is more of a frustration directed towards the owners, than sympathy expressed to the players. An alliance of convenience, I suppose.
Jordan: Definitely with the NHLPA on this one. I get the overall vibe that they just want to play (and we want to watch them). Whereas the NHL is about getting the bigger share of the revenues; as if they didn’t have enough!
3. What’s your prediction of the date of the next NHL regular season game?
Jolene: I’d love to say on time after reading Ron MacLean’s recent article, but I have a hard time believing all their issues will be resolved in a week. Money runs the world, and this game now. It’s so unfair. The NHL used to be more about passion, and love for the sport and less about “how much coin can I get?” So, the players may return just in time for Christmas, or possibly in 2013. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if we were forced to wait until 2021.
Ian: Don’t underestimate the power of greed. I think we see hockey by the beginning of December. This way, the owners get to cash in on the marketing and publicity orgasm that is the Winter Classic. Also, while most Canadians and die-hard American fans won’t drop their loyalty, the NHL does risk doing damage to its brand in the US to the casual fan the more it drags this out. Two missed seasons within a decade because of labour problems? As if the escalating severity of injuries wasn’t bad enough, the worse these problems get, the less likely the league converts casual fans who don’t give a rat’s donkey about a labour shortage into interested fans willing to watch lots of games, pay for subscriptions and paraphernalia and go to games.
Jordan: Sadly I have no guess…it’s too hard to tell. If I had to guess however, I would say mid-October so we get as much hockey as possible. I would hope it’s no longer than January.
4. If there is indeed a lockout, what are you going to do with the time you would have spent been watching hockey?
Jolene: Maybe get a life, yeah? I’ll take up more activities like building bunk beds and creating videos for Prestige Worldwide. I have some super old games on VHS too, so I might watch those a couple of times a week. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Ian: I’ll get by for sure. I’ve been watching the Canucks for decades now. Again, three work stoppages and life didn’t end before. In fact I might even get more work done, as on game days I won’t have to be home before puck drop.
Jordan: Without hockey I might have to work (insert tears here)! When the last lockout happened, I was just a padawan learner. This time, I will likely travel. There are a few places that I’ve been itching to see/explore …especially Anaheim, CA (home to my 2nd favourite team – The Anaheim Ducks)!