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The Vent: Reaction to 50/50 offer; open letter to Gary Bettman

Greg Wyshynski
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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.)

Here' is Andrea Gallo's letter that she sent to Commissioner Gary Bettman. It's a powerful one:

Dear Commissioner Bettman,

I'm a New York Rangers season ticket holder. I was so excited about their Spring run that I decided I'd write a book about following them this season. It's called "DIE-HARD: A dying fan's year of NHL hockey."

You see, I'm living with stage four stomach cancer, so I'm not sure if I'll expire before Brad Richards' contract does.

In the last 18 months, seeing hockey live with 18,200 close friends has been an honest-to-God life-affirming way to spend many of my evenings. Now I'm going to have to write on the LOSS of the pro game. Ugh.

Hockey runs deep in my blood. My father was a Bruins season ticket holder. When we moved to New York when I was ten, I picked up on the local kids' sports allegiances. He said to me "Well, at least you're Original Six." Even he could understand my infatuation with Jean Ratelle and the GAG Line. Of course, the Bruins were Bobby Orr's beasts back then and he must've thought my fandom was misguided.

I've taught my niece and nephew about the game and they've learned to love it too. Josh is a stat-head who plays fantasy hockey and thus knows more about the Western Conference than I do! Nina doesn't watch as much because since she was four, she's played organized hockey and would rather be on the ice. It's my pleasure to report that she's a Connecticut State High School hockey champ. As a third-liner, she'll never be elite, but it doesn't matter to her (or me.) She loves the teamwork, the comraderie, the rush up ice, the ref signaling a goal for her senior scorers, the handshakes after each contest.

And I know how she feels. After the game, I'll rush to hop on the uptown C to be home in time to watch the post-game interviews. Yep, the NHL employs the best athletes in the world. And there's nothing better than a glimpse into a winning lockerroom. And I NEED John Tortorella in my life!

We fans are going to miss all of that: The thrill and tension of the game, its speed, its rare hipchecks, the goal songs, the fans' chants, the players' personalities, even the stale popcorn leftover from the Knicks' previous game.

This is not to elicit sympathy. I'm 52 and have enjoyed the life I've wanted. Josh and I attended this year's Winter Classic in Philly. I've been the volunteer art director for Ice Hockey in Harlem for over a decade. I attended the Cup parade on June 17, 1994. I love this town so much that when I was laid off from on top of a prominent magazine's masthead in 2008, I got my license to be a tour guide. It's an enormous paycut, but it adds to my quality of life. When I'm on that big red bus passing MSG, I talk about the glories of the hometown team and enjoy being razzed by the Canadians on board.

Like many fans, I live a rich well-rounded life, but hockey is a HUGE part of it. Tonight, I'm heading to Hartford with other NYR diehards to cheer on Chris Kreider and welcome Jeff Beukeboom back into the NYR family. Tomorrow morning, Nina has a game I'll attend. Oh, I'll find hockey. And I'll enjoy it.

But tonight I'm going to miss seeing the Kings' banner go up, with my team in attendance. We'd be SO inspired by that. And Quick vs. Lundqvist? WHAT a match-up!

So, I don't know what more to say. Get a deal done, I guess. Like soon. My doctors have verified that I bleed blue. But now I'm blue for a terrible reason.

Please bring back the game we love too much.

Thank you,

Andrea

Not much more to say after that. Get it done for Andrea.

Here's Peter Santangeli on today's cautious optimism from the NHL's proposal:

This is a pretty good deal if you buy into the numerology that 50/50 is fair.

Where the owners sort of have the players over a barrel on this is that with this deal they are looking at a 10% delay in payment (with probably some risk to it if the repayment is growth based), but on the other hand, if they turn it down, they are kissing goodbye 1/2 of a season, the money from which they will likely never see again.

Long term, I think even most players will admit, 50/50 ends up being the deal. So as a player, are you willing to throw away 1/2 a years salary, and at what cost? If the alternative is a delay and some risk of %10 of your salary? It only really even seems to be a question for existing very long term contracts.

Very clever on the part of the owners to let just enough of the season get cancelled, while keeping the ability to bring it back as a bonus, that this looks good. Not dumb people.

Not at all. This offer had Lidstrom poke-check timing.

From reader Eric B., a Maryland alum (yea!) and a sci-fi nerd (double yea!) who is on his meds:

I took today off work, recovering from Wisdom tooth surgery.  Between the painkillers, no solid food, a mild fever, watching the Ice Breaker Tournament, the Oil Kings-Hitmen game, and old-school Transformers cartoons on DVR, I just awoke from the following dream:

I was in a board of governor's meeting. A major sticking point of the CBA negotiations was the league wanting to drop a player because he had a really stupid vehicle mode (some sort of Zamboni/cherry-picker thing), which was completely un-marketable.  A secondary concern was some shoddy, out-of-date stereo system the league wanted to put in all the arenas.

The Zamboni-bot would probably be a Autobot named "Steamer", and his mortal enemy would be a Decepticon that pretends to be an arena parking enforcement vehicle. At least that's how it worked in our Fan-Fic.

From John Muir, a New York Islanders fan:

Actually, more of a bittersweet realization...

"The League" is claiming losses of $350M (100 for pre-season, 250 for regular) from the games now cancelled. As much as I think this number is unadulterated crap, this really means that fans are KEEPING most of that $350M in THEIR pockets. How is this bad?

Regular humans can now put money towards getting through daily life (bills, car repair, tuition payments, etc) and not worry how attending the next game is going to impact their spending before the next paycheck. Yes, add in some sympathy for restaurant/bar owners and innocent arena staff who have no say in any sort of labor talks, yet are getting hosed on this as well. They have jobs that are directly or greatly influenced by a properly functioning league.

Right now I don't particularly miss professional hockey games. Will this change by New Year's? Probably. Still...how exactly am I supposed to feel slighted and enraged by the fact that I'm about to SAVE a few hundred bucks over the next 12 months?

Fan apathy has already been verbalized by Dark Helmet, "I knew it, I'm surrounded by a--holes."

Finally, here's the Hookdwinked Films boys with "More Things You Won't Hear During the NHL Lockout" … and bloopers!

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