The last time the NHL locked out its players, they cancelled the 2004-05 season entirely and commissioner Gary Bettman declared it a huge victory for the league and its 30 teams. When the current collective bargaining agreement expires later this week, fans will be faced with the possibility of losing more games to the greed of the hockey world. As much as Bettman likes to think that the NHL has the greatest fans on the planet, he shouldn’t expect the fans to take this one lying down. The website change.org currently has multiple petitions going asking for the firing of Bettman and thousands upon thousands of fans have signed up. Bettman doesn’t seem to be worried about the fans boycotting games and says that the NHL "has the greatest fans in the world". Signing petitions is nice and all, but the fans must be able to avoid going games or be able to do something to send a message to the players and the owners. Here are some of my suggestions:
Organize A Boycott
Okay so this first answer is pretty obvious and not necessarily practical. The greatest petition website in the world could not convince 20,000+ fans at 30 arenas to skip out on games and not watch them on TV. However, I can’t help but think about the Will Ferrell movie Semi-Pro when it comes to how to keep fans out of the stands. There is a scene in that movie where Ferrell takes on a bear in a steel cage and the bear manages to free himself and starts attacking the crowd. While this would result in tons of lawsuits and probably numerous severe injuries in the real world, it’s a nice thing to imagine. But seriously, fans need to prove that they are not the best in the world and skip out on games, because the corporate world doesn’t do anything for the public unless they pay for it or it helps build branding for the company and makes them look more socially responsible. I don’t know about you but I feel like a grizzly bear on the loose might make Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr sit down and make a deal before the CBA expires on the 15th.
Make The Government Pass A Bill That Makes Hockey An Essential Service
I’m not totally sure what labor relations laws are like in the United States but I do have an idea of what they are like in Canada, particularly as a refers to transportation and strikes. Whenever local transit goes on strike here, there’s always a debate about whether it should be considered an essential service, meaning that even when it is on strike patrons can still use it because people still have to travel to work. Since hockey is Canada’s game we should totally make it an essential service, ensuring that players and owners can’t go on strike and leave us hanging. This also means that during a strike ticket prices would be no more than $3.00, that’s what the cost as of riding the Toronto subway system on a daily basis. That would make it so that players could not pay their million dollar mortgages during times of economic distress and owners would not be able to put fuel in their private jets, causing a huge crisis among all these rich people, forcing them to act like grown men and reach a deal sooner rather than later. Plus if they did act like babies and let us just pay the $3, we’d have lots more cash for $10 beers.
Fire Gary Bettman
Gary Bettman is the Commissioner and commissioners are supposed to act as a connecting party between players and owners, yet the owners are responsible for paying the commissioners salary. Thought of in this way, it is clearly a conflict of interest that will prevent the deal from being made before the end of this week. The idea of firing Gary Bettman is not a new one. The question is who would be a suitable replacement? Perhaps the king of promotion himself, Don King, would be a good fit. King has made more money off of boxing and promoted more fights than anyone I can think of in my lifetime. Plus with his loud boisterous attitude and his crazy looking hair, he himself would be too much of a distraction for the players to worry about how much money they’re getting. Besides we all know that King would get most of it, that’s what he did to boxers anyway.
If King doesn’t quite make the cut, the players and owners could always go sans Commissioner and just duke it out in a good old-fashioned brouhaha. One might think that the players would have the advantage since every team has at least one fighter, but don’t forget that the owners have enough money for nuclear weapons.
No matter who the Commissioner is one thing is certain. It’s the fans that always get screwed during a lockout or work stoppage and neither the players or the owners in the situation have enough respect for us. We must stand up and unite and not give in to these grown men acting like children over millions of dollars when there are a lot of people in this world right now who don’t have a job. The truth is that we probably will come back to hockey like a bunch of monkeys on typewriters, dragging their knuckles into the seats. But no matter what your stance is on the issue and whether or not you plan to go back to games, make sure that you take the opportunity to show your frustration in one way or another, I know I will.
If you would like to follow more of the sports stuff that I have been doing, you can follow me on twitter @jackchoros.