Dear Gary Bettman, NHL execs, Don Fehr, and Players,
This letter is dedicated to all of you out there who will determine the future of the pending season and the game that captivates us all.
This is a letter to remind you of a simple fact that you keep overlooking…the fans. The fans do not care about the numbers and percentages or which side gets more money. The fans do not care how each side chooses their words extremely carefully in addressing the media following each round of meetings.The fans simply put, care about the game that has been cancelled temporarily[at least for now…]. The fans just want the game they love to return.
Do you really think this game of tug of war over the numbers waiting to see who blinks first, is worth the risk of losing the fans? Some fans have vowed to not return back to the game after yes the third lockout of your career, GB. Seems absurd that a few words could cause such an uproar…but the words “lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement” and “lockout” go hand in hand when neither side is willing to see beyond the numbers. The longer this war of words over who gets the bigger slice of the pie continues, the bigger the risk.
Are numbers important to hockey? YES. Take 82 for example. 82 is the number of total league-wide regular season games that YOU have cancelled. 82 is also the number of regular season games EACH team plays in one season [unless shortened by a lockout such as 1994-1995…and now 2012-2013]. Effectively you have already taken away a season’s worth or games from ONE team already….how far are you willing to go to make a point?
Some players have begun to flee abroad just to keep themselves viable should you finally come to a new agreement. Ovie, Datsyuk, Malkin and Gonchar are just a few of the notable players making their presence felt in the KHL. Each day brings more news of more players signing to play elsewhere during this “work stoppage”. It is concerning that the best players in the league are playing elsewhere when they should all be participating in what should have been the first week of the regular season. What is more concerning…that Sidney Crosby is READY to freaking play symptom-free for the first time in more than a YEAR! The face of the NHL in recent years and he is still holding out hope unlike many other players that a deal can be reached. Has he considered running abroad…probably…but instead he is waiting to see what you can accomplish. It concerns me that should Crosby finally cave and go abroad….the hope for the season will grow dimmer. Does it not concern you all that each day brings news of your best players signing to play else where….and that any day now, Crosby and more just might join those already overseas?
Thursday marks what was supposed to be the beginning of the 2012-2013 regular season..but thanks to all you and your money squabbles, it will simply be a plain old Thursday. You keep saying that the fans of the NHL are the best fans….yet you are not listening to US. Somewhere along the way of these negotiations, you all lost sight of not only the fans, but the game that once came before the numbers. The game that you are dreamed to be a part of back when you were a kid. The game that captured you all when you saw a great player such as Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, or Mario Lemieux bring the game to new heights with a play that you could never have imagined possible. The game that gives every player or the team the opportunity to rise above their expectations. The game that you all claim to play or work around because you love it and it defines you. How can it define you or be something that you love if none of you are a part of it right now? The game that you all claim is what you all want back…..is the one that none of you seem to be fighting very hard to bring back. It is time to stop merely discussing secondary issues at these scheduled CBA meetings and get down to the heart of the matter. Start talking those numbers that you all are fighting over and lets get all those NHL super stars back in North America [ahem…such as Malkin who once again is playing ridiculously good…just at the moment it is not for the NHL…time to change that!].
The fans just want the season back. Will we accept a shortened season?…that’s the only option you have left us after canceling the first 82 games, GB! Do you really want to make the financial colossal mistake or canceling the Winter Classic? I must say that really truly would be an all-new low for the league. All people will remember of the Bettman legacy at this point is the 3 lockouts endured during your tenure as commissioner. The fans do have a voice. The question is will you hear us? Does the NHL have the best fans? Yes…but how long will you, GB, NHL execs, DF, and players make us endure this ever loathed state of a lockout? The fans do not have a choice in the matter…but it is the common opinion that we all despise the lockout. That is all, nucksaid.
Sincerely, a fan who just wants to watch hockey again!