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NHL fans are losing it; tough questions for NHLPA (THE VENT)

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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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 puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com, Subject: The Vent.

This is how Chase Unruh plans to boycott the NHL:

In the midst of swirling rumors, uncertainty, and anger (others' anger, not mine) regarding the NHL lockout, I have discovered some very positive things, but I'll get to those in a moment.  First, I need to vent my only frustration.

Will I boycott the NHL?  Well, to be honest I never really supported it in the first place.  I don't buy NHL gear, and I've only gone to one NHL game my entire life (not due to a lack of desire, but due to ticket prices).  I have, however, watched countless, mind-numbing advertisements during NHL games on TV (does that count for "supporting" the NHL?) and would have actually supported them this season by purchasing a 14 pack (of tickets) to see the Avs.  I mean, what the hell, right?  About two games a month, more reasonably priced tickets, a reason to go to Denver, and the chance to see some other teams in action.  Well, I'm certainly not going to do that next year, because (here's one positive thing) I can buy season tickets to see Colorado College, who plays 15 minutes from my house.

Even though I was initially upset about not being able to pull the trigger on the Avs pack, I could care less now.  What does upset me is this: The people working the arenas (concessions, beer, ticket booths, etc) who don't have a job.  These are people who earn a poor wage in the first place and who (possibly) depend on this work from season to season to make ends meet.  Where is the concern for them?  Oh wait, that would require billionaires to care about something else besides their wallets.

Now on to the positive things the NHL lockout has brought to my life.  I spend less time on the couch watching games and get more exercise because, since I can't watch hockey, I now play it.  I have lost weight, gained confidence, and reconnected with a sport I loved playing in my youth.  I follow the WCHA (and all college hockey for that matter) and attend as many Colorado College games as I can afford.  The seats at the World Arena are very close to the ice (even the bad ones), and I support local business with pre- and (sometimes) post-drinking expenditures.  Instead of buying an Avs 14 pack (when the NHL decides to grace us with a season), I will buy Colorado College season tickets, whose price tag will get me 20 games on the glass at the World Arena instead of 14 games in the nose-bleeds at the Pepsi Center.  Instead of an Avs jersey, I will buy a Tigers jersey.  And you know why?  Now I am invested in another team and another league that is more concerned with playing the game than turning a profit.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with making a profit, but is this what professional hockey has become...only a profit making machine?  If so, count me out.  I'll also add that I think the Avs owners are small offenders, but offenders nonetheless.

So, I tip my hat to the NHL for helping me get more exercise (my wife thanks you too, by the way) and for connecting me with my home team.  And in my best awkward breakup voice I'll say: "No, really, it's not you, it's me.  I'm not the same person I used to be, and I just want you to be happy with someone else."  So long, Avs; hello, Tigers!

Somewhere, Gabe Landeskog weeps quietly ...

Ray McCabe has a few questions for NHL players "regarding their seeming hypocritical statements":

While the NHL/NHLPA negotiations of a new CBA are going nowhere, there certainly has  been an INCREDIBLE amount of time spent giving the press sound bites - the NHL's usually surround some information regarding the negotiations that they want to get to the public.  The NHLPA's are also information, but usually include some jab at the NHL.  And the players themselves have taken to the world of social media to trash the NHL, Gary Bettman and anyone who doesn't believe this is ALL the leagues fault.

Unfortunately, given the nature of social media in general and twitter in particular, the players can spout their accusations without fear of retribution.  They aren't having a conversation here, where they would have to explain their statement and address rebuttals.  They just drop their golden nuggets into the twitter-verse like little pieces of candy, trying to lure the children to them, in this case, the fans to their side of the disagreement.

Well, given the plethora of tweets from many NHL players, it's obvious they want to share their opinion.  Hopefully then, they would be willing to answer just a few questions regarding their already made statements.  I would think that if they really believe what they say, then they do, in fact, have answers.  They just aren't required to give them.

That being said, here we go:

Regarding the LOCKOUT itself:

1 - You've been VERY vocal about how this lockout wasn't your (players) idea.  I've seen many of you tweet or state in interviews that you are more than willing to play the season while the negotiations continue.  The only reason you aren't playing is because the owners locked you out.  However, the owners asked you SEVERAL times last winter to start negotiations during the 2011-2012 season.  The silence of your response was deafening.  That being said, why do you vilify owners for not negotiating while playing, but when YOU refuse to negotiate while playing, that's OK?

2 - Not only have you stated the lockout is wrong, but have alluded to the owners taking your jobs away (at least until this is settled) and even questioned the morality involved.  Because of this, many of you have gone to the European and Russian hockey leagues to play, taking jobs from players overseas. Understanding this, explain why, again, you vilify the owners for locking you out, in effect, taking your jobs away, but it's OK for the owners of the European and Russian teams to which you are going to "lockout" or "get rid of" or "cause not to play" the European and Russian players that you are replacing.

Regarding CONTRACTS:

3 - You've made many many statements saying the owners negotiated your contracts in bad faith, never intending to pay 100% of the contracts, and you want those contracts to be paid in full.  Also understanding that in every year of the last CBA, NO NHL CONTRACT WAS EVER PAID OUT AT 100% (because of the escrow, 5 of those years you were paid LESS THAN 100% and in 2 of the years you were paid MORE THAN 100%).  That being said, why is it negotiating in bad faith to treat the contracts the same as they were treated when they were signed, but its OK to arbitrarily circumvent the escrow clause for these contracts?

4 - Again, given your stated stance on the owners bad faith negotiation of contracts, and also understanding that certain contract clauses, such as a 'no trade clause', has value to both player AND organization,  why do you defame owners when YOU BELIEVE they negotiated in bad faith and are trying to get out of a contract they signed, but when a player does it, like Rick Nash DEMANDING out of his no trade clause, it's OK?

Again, these aren't ARBITRARY questions regarding hypocrisy, they are SPECIFIC questions to ALREADY MADE hypocritical statements.

My true belief is that the players have no LOGICAL explanation and can't honestly answer these questions.  I believe they are contrived statements, used to garner public and media support.  Knowing the media sides with them and WON'T ask these questions, and most of the public don't understand enough so CAN'T ask these questions, the players float these diatribes, knowing their ridiculousness,  purely in an effort to win the PR war surrounding these negotiations.

Now THAT sounds like negotiating in bad faith.

Via reader Peter Stefancik:

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Said Peter: "Here's my little contribution to protest the lockout. Can't have a correct orientation for something that doesn't exist!"

Paul Ljucovic keeps it short and sweet, in an email on Dec. 4:

"If the lockout ends tomorrow, then the countdown begins: 2,555 days till the next lockout.

"I'm done."

Finally, here's a new web series that shows how badly NHL fans are losing it:

Right now it looks like there will not be a 2012 NHL season and Tim (in a dark garage somewhere in North America) is losing it. This all stems from the expiration of the National Hockey League's (NHL) collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Specifically, the inability of the NHL franchise owners (led by commissioner Gary Bettman) and the members of the National Hockey League Players' Association (led by Donald Fehr) to come to an agreement has forced the Lockout...

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