Sunday, June 12, 2005

 

Update and Reader's Rant

When you talk to people close to the talks they are focused on the issue at hand. When you ask them about the draft it is like asking an intern about retirement. They really can't imagine it yet. However due to obvious logistical concerns and the quickly approaching season, there are people who are assigned to work on the draft and, with a rolling calendar, schedule it.

I have talked to many sources regarding this. There was of course a rumor making the rounds that a room had been scheduled in New York to host it on the 25th. After talking to many sources the general feeling is the draft will be held on the Saturday three weeks following the press conference. It will be held in a New York hotel, NBA style with the first round picks being flown in.

As I said yesterday teams are starting to get ready...a source wrote this in late last night, "interesting to note that in the last day or two the Vancouver Canucks have posted 16 jobs on their website and in the two major daily newspapers in Vancouver. The jobs are things like media and community relations, game presentation and game night staff – all the jobs that were eliminated after the lockout went into effect. Clearly this is the start of a hiring string in anticipation of a season ahead."

I'm going to start a new feature here that will be called....The Sunday Reader's Rant...Send in your rant and get read by 100,000+ fans, players, reporters, GMs, coaches, owners, and zamboni drivers...Today's rant inspired the series..The writer of this rant has chosen to remain anonymous.....

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"I am another fan who is pro owner, and yes I am angry at the players blindly following their leader without question. Am I angry at the individual player? Absolutely not! Will I be in my seat at the Shark tank cheering for the Sharks if we are so fortunate as to have a season in the fall? You betcha! To do otherwise would be counter productive to what I want. I want to see my team play hockey and to hold a grudge over the lost season would only prolong my loss.

The players made one huge mistake and that was to blindly follow their leader. They had a voice and a choice and they choose to remain silent and committed to the brotherhood, "taking one" (no paycheck) for the team. That is the normal mentality of a hockey player. The players were just continuing doing what they have been coached to do for so many years. Fans love when a player gives up the body for the team, but we resent them when they do the same for their brotherhood in the NHLPA. Pretty fickle.

Many fans feel that since we had no voice in the lockout we were the biggest losers, because we were the only ones who had no control over our destiny.

The handful of players who spoke out during the lockout will forever have the wrath of the fans. Bryan McCabe will never live down the decent living comments he made. I also assume that Humane Society ís in NHL cities will be grateful for all the dog food that will be donated to them after Mike Modano plays in their city. My guess is that fans will be bringing Modano dog food for at least the first six months the NHL is back on the ice.

I agree when you say the NHL needs to throw the players a bone so that they do not feel they lost everything. Maybe the same can be said about the fans. Maybe they need to feel like the players threw them a bone too. The players may feel like the owners are the ones to throw the fans a bone and technically they may be right. Unfortunately the perception of the fan is that we were wronged by the players and their blind faith in the PA.

As fans we need to remember that while we may have missed one year of hockey, we also saved a lot of money. We didn't pay for tickets or merchandise, overpriced parking or beer. The money I saved on my season tickets will be used to purchase a large screen HD television so that I can watch the team I love in high def when they are on the road. Fans also need to remember that the players lost so much more than the fans. They lost a year of income and a year of their career, both of which they can never recover. Isn't that punishment enough?

When the season was cancelled the thing that stood out the most about the press conferences was that Bettman started his speech with an apology to the fans and Goodenow; even when asked by the press if he wanted to apologize to the fans, failed to do so. A simple heartfelt apology is long overdue and would do a world of good. Can I also suggest that the players tuck away their NHLPA hats and shirts and pull out their team merchandise. Seeing a player wear the NHLPA gear is like a visual slap to the fans. 

To get my hockey fix during the lockout I attended San Jose State University Spartan hockey games. Like all college hockey west of the Rockies, the Spartans are part of ACHA hockey and are considered a club sport. The biggest difference between an NCAA team and an ACHA team is that they receive no financial support from their school. This means that these young men pay to play ($2500.00 per player per season) and they play because they love the game. At the end of every game win or lose the entire team lined up on the ice, faced the fans and saluted the fans (sticks raised in unison). It was an amazing feeling, being thanked for coming out and supporting them. NHL players could learn a great lesson from these young men. The power of a simple heartfelt "thank you".

I have thought a little bit more on the reaction you got on the chat about the players. It made me think about a quote I heard a few months ago during an interview of Susan St. James after the death of her and Dick Ebersol's son. She was asked how the family was dealing with the loss and the natural anger at the "why him" thoughts.

Her response was so wonderful I hit the record button on my tivo so that I could show my two teenage children her response. What Mrs. St. James said was, "Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other guy dies." 

The fans resent the players for the lockout and yet they are only poisoning themselves. There resentment will only further their loss and gain them nothing. Hopefully through media outlets like yourself those angry fans will be able to realize that their anger only continues their pain.

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Reader's Rants are editorials and represent their own views.



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