(THE VENT is a forum for rants, raves, pleas and laments from hockey fans across the world about the NHL lockout. It runs every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. If you've got a take on the lockout and need to let it out, email us at email@example.com, Subject: The Vent.)
Here's Charley Thomas with an open letter to the NHL and NHLPA:
For too long we have watched billionaires squabble over measly percentage points with millionaires, only to see the game that we love and cherish put to a grinding halt just as we got a whiff of the pre-season in the crisp September air. For too long we have over-paid for lackluster game performances and tickets that cost more than an average person makes in a week. For too long we have been silent. We will no longer stand by while the greed of owners and players alike crush our beloved game into a fragment of what it used to be.
The family of four who can't afford to take their children to an NHL regular season game due to ticket, concession and merchandise prices will no longer stand by with unwavering support. The faithful fan who grew up watching boys grow into men and skate and score their way to be labeled a champion and lift Lord Stanley's Cup will no longer watch you kill the game. We will no longer wait while you quarrel over millions of our hard earned dollars. For, without the fans, you have not a skate to stand on. We pay your salaries; we purchase your merchandise, we buy your over-priced game tickets, we pay the ridiculous prices for sub-par concession items.
It's time to take the fight to your front door and let you know we won't do it anymore. We're going to the mattresses…and it's going to be one hell of a battle.
It's high time that the local boys who play "for love of the game" and not "for love of money" see our support and our flags - the guys who go out and skate for the fans, and because they love the ice, the feel of a puck connecting with a stick and the glory of a perfect shot. It's time for OUR game to come back to the place it belongs.
You have put hundreds of people out of work and are contributing to the downturn of the ever so fragile economy while you argue over billions of dollars that those people helped you earn. People such as concessions attendants or the friendly usher in your arena now have to look for alternative employment. We're left to ask if you even care.
Many of us have been left pondering the definition of "fair" in light of the recent negotiations between billionaires(or in this case, lack thereof). From small children to adults, the standard meaning of "fair" is 50/50, half and half. You will have to forgive us if we don't see your side. The only side we see is greed. And it's ruining our game.
It's now time for us fans to hit you where it will hurt the most…your wallets. Sure, we may be sacrificing the game we love, but as far as many of us are concerned, it's already suffered irreparable damage by both sides. So whenever you kids come to an agreement, by all means play on. There will be no one in your stands to fund your paycheque.
As they say…it's money that makes the world go 'round. So to you we say: Goodbye, goodnight…and good luck.
It's signed: "Sincerely, The Fans."
Short and bitter from Gerry in London:
The NHL should just fold up and the players play somewhere else..We have switched over to the OHL and now support them...I really do not care anymore for the NHL...Most people I talk to have lost interest ALSO!!! ....
Please recall earlier this week when a fan wrote Donald Fehr and received a letter back from the NHLPA boss. Well, GJ Berg wrote a few NHL governors and had some surprising success. Here's her letter:
Dear Governor -
I am a dedicated hockey fan and extremely disappointed that the NHL has imposed another lockout.
This lockout has gone on long enough to allow me to reevaluate the priority of hockey in my life. Some might call me the "biggest" fan of my team. I will admit that over more than the past decade, I have dedicated thousands of hours to watching games, practices, tracking player stats/transactions, and finding the latest news on the team and players.
And what has it got me? Another heartache with a lockout. And serious, prolonged consideration of never attending another NHL game or event (and the money and time saved could go to so many other activities). Many fans I talk with (in person, on line, via social media) who are devoted/dedicated fans as well are similarly affected with apathy or ambivalence.
And now with the loss of (regular season) games, I've set a deadline (or I walk). I am exasperated at the seeming lack of urgency with negotiations.
If, I, a self-proclaimed dedicated fan, feel so disillusioned, I can only imagine that ownership and players' families might be the only ones in the stands if (and when) the game returns.
Please put forward all your energies and creativity to increase the urgency of negotiations and solve the labor issues.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Berg said that Kevin Compton of the San Jose Sharks actually called after receiving the letter ("It was about 4:30 per my call log.") and that New Jersey Devils Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello wrote the following:
Pete Stern has three things that are buggin' him about the lockout:
In any argument there is always some truth to both sides, however in the case of Lockout v. Fans I am having a harder time finding blame for the players. For all the facts and opinions that have been tossed around, there are three things that I still can't get past:
1) Year after year, Bettman and the owners claim record revenues, lucrative broadcasting contracts, unparalleled fan support, etc., etc., etc., until riiiight about the time the lockout started. Suddenly, "no wait forget all of that, we're losing money all the time, this is a broken system!!" But what about those ridiculous contracts like Kovalchuk and Parise and-- "THIS IS A BROKEN SYSTEM!!" Worse than this is the fact that the owners thought, maybe still think, we would believe them. Yes, owners. That makes perfect sense. Just because we "Shut up and take my money!" you for 10 months a year doesn't mean we don't know how money actually works.
2) If we are to believe the information we hear, most of which comes from some pretty solid sources, the owners' cries about how the players aren't giving anything up in the negotiating process is insane. A 50-50 split is fair, no question about it, but that doesn't change the fact that it is a concession when the starting point was 57. And guaranteeing the money in contracts that owners already agreed to is not a concession; it is, by definition, what a contract means. You agreed to the deal, you pay the money. If the player suddenly turned around and demanded more money, he'd be laughed at, cut, punished somehow. There are two sides to every contract, after all, why should the owners not be accountable in the same manner? They are the ones who refuse to budge at every turn, and that leads me to point number three...
3) The owners do not care about us. I hate to say it because I wish that all of the protests, bad PR, and other assorted hatred expressed toward the owners would sway them a little into behaving slightly better than spoiled children, but it doesn't. They do not care about you. Or me. Or anyone who isn't green and made of paper. They are not hockey fans, they are businessmen. In a twisted way, I hope that people do follow through on their promises, and when the NHL lockout is finally over, no one buys tickets or merchandise, watches on TV, or even acknowledges the existence of the NHL. Call it stupid, call it impossible, I wouldn't disagree. But know that as long as we do watch, attend, support, and buy, the owners will go right on not caring about us. If this starts to hit them in the wallet the way it is everyone else, they will start to care, and will hopefully have to beg and plead and apologize to get the fans to come back.
This is the only sport I care about and follow, so obviously this process would be heartbreaking to watch. But I see now that it is the only scenario in which Jeremy Jacobs, or Ed Snider, or anyone else in the handful of dictators who pull Bettman's strings will show the slightest bit of concern at what their actions are creating.
When league face and walking moneybag Sidney Crosby tells you to stop whining and negotiate, you might want to listen. Because he is right about one thing, nobody is going to win from this mess. I'm not saying the players are blame-free, but it seems to me that if the owners were as willing to negotiate, and less reminiscent of stubborn children, we could be talking about better things in mid-November, like early Cup favorites and slow starters...you know, the other kind of hockey talk.
Finally, this is darn terrific parody of "Anna Sun" by Walk the Moon called "This Wallet's Closing Up Now."
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