The People's Voice drops the puck

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

Between passionate Eagle fans and passionate (albeit hibernating) NHL fans, it was a week of both quality and quantity for The People's Voice. So we'll get right to it after thanking you for all the feedback. As always, include name and town if you want to get printed.

Now on to The People's Voice ...

NHL LOCKOUT ("The tipping point" Jan. 19, 2005)

I couldn't agree more. Mr. Bettman is the reason for the whole lockout. He failed in the NBA and now he is destroying the NHL. By expanding the league as quick as he did, he forced the owners to go out and spend big money for the top-notch players. Now he wants to put in place a sort of owner babysitting program, so the owners won't go out and spend the big money. At least that's the way I see it.

The players have fault in this as well. What happened to team loyalty, and the love of the game? Will we ever see players like Steve Yzerman or Mike Modano or Mario Lemieux, who stay with the same team they started with? I don't think so. How much money is enough money for playing a game you love?

Curtis Cole

If NHL hockey ever returns, will there be any serious moves to stop the grabbing and holding?

Is it possible the NHL will stop trying to become a wrestling league and do something about the love fest grabbing, instead of changing the traditions in the game by moving the blue line, etc.?

Is there any chance Don Cherry could replace Bettman?

If I buy a voodoo doll of Bettman and stick needles in it, will it help?

Is there any chance we can get another professional hockey league and leave the NHL in the dust bin of history?

I'm not taking sides, but a 55-percent salary cap is ridiculous.

Will President Bush ask for a constitutional amendment to stop players from on-ice grabbing in the NHL?

Can Bettman be an anagram for tyranny?

William Estes Dotani
Allen Park, Mich.

Why is no one asking the following questions (or if they are, telling us what Mr. Bettman and the owners have to say)?

1. If you can only afford 53 percent for product and salaries (which the players are), where is the other 47 percent going?

2. If you wish to make the players your partners by abdicating management's role on salaries by creating a salary cap, shouldn't you make them partners in other aspects as well?

3. Shouldn't you also put a cap on management salaries as well? If Glen Sather can make whatever he can bargain, and his players can't, isn't that a bit hypocritical?

4. Since you are insisting on counting debt service payments in the operating expenses, shouldn't a percentage of profits from team sales be sent to the Players' Association to be distributed to the players later?

The reason the NHL does not make money is because it has incompetent management – starting from Bettman on down. Even the Devils, although Lou Lamoriello is very good on a cost side, are terrible when you look at their marketing efforts.

There is an old adage that figures do not lie, but liars figure. Seems like there is a whole lot of figuring going on.

George Armonaitis
Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.

I know the NHL folks read this column, so maybe someone can have Gary Bettman answer those. We know he isn't busy solving the lockout.

Why didn't you mention that the union wouldn't let a team fold even if the owner wanted that to happen? The union wouldn't allow the loss of jobs. I agree with most of your column, though I don't believe the union has no culpability in the current situation.

J.R. Clegg

This column wasn't about suggesting a solution; I'm not smart enough to figure it all out. Nor am I absolving the NHLPA for being partner on some of this.

But Bettman has made poor decision after poor decision to the point that we are about to lose an entire season. Then he has the audacity to tell everyone to trust him, he has a solution. Forgive me for the lack of confidence. The guy is a stiff.

Bettman has no business savvy whatsoever. He's trying to sell winter jackets to Hawaiians. As crazy as that might sound, how crazy is it have a hockey team in Nashville??

Hockey is a way of life here in Montreal. We pack the rink every single game no matter who we play against.

Bettman is killing hockey, period. I would rather see the league file for bankruptcy than see Bettman in office for another decade.

Michael Frascarelli

I think you made some very good points in your column about Gary Bettman. One thing makes me nervous, however – your criticism about the expansion teams. Here in Columbus, expansion has worked. This market has shown a level of support near equal to what they show for Ohio State football (well, maybe not THAT much). Sure, if you were to remove a franchise in Atlanta or Nashville, people might not even blink, but people in Columbus miss their hockey.

Alex Connor
Columbus, Ohio

I didn't say all expansion was bad. Some was good. But the league clearly is overexpanded.

Who cares about the hokey ... er, hockey? I live in a sports-crazy town, even a hockey-crazy town. I listen to talk radio and no one – I mean no one – talks about this lockout at all! Not even the hosts talk much about it other than it sucks not having the Avs play. Nobody in my neighborhood, my work or elsewhere cares.

Both sides are dead wrong, both sides are greedy to the point of destroying their sport, but no one really cares except Canada (whom I really feel sorriest for) and a few million hard-core puckheads in the big six NHL cities.

Kent R. Sawatzky

Regarding the NHL's TV contract with NBC, it should stipulate that games must be broadcast in HD. I believe hockey stands to benefit the most from HD, providing easier tracking of the puck and seeing more of the ice surface. I often hear that hockey is much better in person than on TV, which can be alleviated by the use of HD technology.

Larry Carlson
Honey Creek, Iowa

I have not seen a hockey game in HDTV, but you are not the first person to suggest it may dramatically change the viewing experience.

The problem is worse than they think because some of the few fans that they did cultivate over the past few years, like my husband and me, are not planning on coming back when hockey returns.

We're tired of always paying the price when too many of the players and owners are only interested in lining their pockets. Always at the fans' expense.

My husband and I used to get a group together at least four or five times a season to attend Sharks games. May not seem like much, but these eight adults and five kids will not be attending any more games. Wonder how many groups like us are lost to the greed and posturing of the two sides to this conflict (for want of a better word)? Hope it was worth it.

Stephanie Davidson
Newark, Calif.

I live in a Southern city that has supported the NHL very well. It's unfortunate, however, that the better the Stars got in the '90s the higher the ticket prices became. It got to the point where only the wealthy or those of us with expense accounts could go to the games. They got their new luxury arena with their luxury boxes and lost their most loyal fan base that were not willing to take a second mortgage on the house to keep season tickets.

The players and owners are equally responsible for the present situation, and the sport so many of us love is changed forever. That's what greed gets you.

Mark Bromley

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME ("At last" January 23, 2005)

The Michael Vick Experience? If I remember correctly, worse defenses have stopped Vick this year. Michael Vick is by far the most overrated player in the league (and a close second would be Randy Moss).

Jeff Neuenschwander
Dearborn, Mich.

Enjoy your column and insight. As someone who speaks with that "Philthadelphia" accent, I have been caught up in the drama of the Eagles. But there was more drama than that today. (By the way I am a 49-year-old woman with 6 kids and a Ph.D. who broke down and sobbed like a baby when "we" got that last touchdown.)

My question is who was the 10-year-old boy who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" with such passion it made grown men (and women) cry? That little boy touched a chord in my heart and set the stage for an emotional game. What is his story? It might make a good human interest story.

Gael Hogan
Sanford, N.C.

The anthem singer is 10-year-old Timmy Kelly of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., who was born blind with a mild form of cerebral palsy and one truly moving singing voice. His parents noticed he loved to sing and loved the Eagles so they took him to an anthem singer tryout. At age 8 he struggled with his tryout and didn't finish the song. Last year a family vacation prevented him from trying out. But this year he got selected, and according to the Eagles his two regular-season appearances "elicited more letters and phone calls than the team had ever received about a singer."

"We just had to have him back," Eagles president Joe Banner said.

So they did. And if you thought it was something to see on television, you should have seen the reaction inside the Linc. Just an awesome, awesome scene. There is a Kate Smith quality to the kid.

EAGLES FANS ("Bird lovers" January 24, 2005)

Thank you! You captured the spirit of Philly, which is unique. I cringe when national media folks refer to Philly fans as the league's worst (they're not) and the ones that threw snowballs at Santa. The truth is that that happened back in the '70s, and what you don't hear was that Santa had been drunk and yelling obscenities at the crowd. Naturally they let him know he was out of line.

I love this city and its teams, which can be trying at times, but the Eagles are the heart and soul of this city. You'll hear Eagles sports talk in April and May, all through the year, not just during the season.

Thank you for capturing the real Philadelphia, not what has been passed down and exaggerated. You do yourself, our fair city and Philadelphians a great service.

Matt McCarrie
Wayne, Pa.

Are you kidding me?!? Philadelphia is the hard-luck city that needs a championship more than any other city? How about Cleveland?

Not a single Super Bowl appearance. Don't give me the rundown of all those Jim Brown championship teams; you know they don't exactly count because it was before the merger. I don't even need to mention the famous plays that have doomed and haunted the Browns, do I? "The Fumble," "The Drive," "Red Right 88," need I go on? We have seen heartbreaking loss after heartbreaking loss, and then our guts ripped out when Modell moved the team.

Take my word for it, there is no football fan out there that has as close a relationship with Despair as a Browns fan does. You talk about blue-collar fans, Cleveland sports a legion of them (and across the globe, to boot).

Don't get me wrong, Philly fans deserve a Super Bowl win too, but don't you even think that they're more of a hard-luck base than Clevelanders. We just don't say it, we shut up and, like every year, we hope for the best and pull for our team.

Gabe King

At least you have LeBron.

I always feel so good after reading one of your articles. I mean, in this age of hard-hitting, fact-addicted society of news-junkies, it's so refreshing to find the equivalent of slow-pitch softball in the sporting news.

Thanks for being such a nice guy ... and a lousy writer.

P.S. I have relatives in Philly.

Greg Bronshvag
San Francisco

Glad I could brighten your day.

I just got done reading your article on Philly's die-hard fans but had to finish telling my friends about it before I could contact you. I especially enjoyed the analogy regarding the loyalty of a golden retriever versus the ferocity of a pit bull. The fans of Philadelphia are unique because the passion we have for our teams is worn on our sleeves during every event.

We love our team, our city and our sports, and nothing feels better than a win. And from experience we can also admit that there is nothing worse than the stench that follows a major loss. And it's due to this that I must admit that it was pretty damn pleasant today. Thanks again for a great article and regards from the warmest place on Earth right now.

David Walsh

The Chicago Cardinals of Ollie Matson fame are now in Arizona. Season tickets in 1959 were two for 18 bucks and Concrete Charlie is the last Man, with a capital M, to play a season both ways (at all-pro level).

After all the years the current ownership of the Eagles has got it right. Both staff and players have vision enough to maintain a winning team for the foreseeable future. A season ticket is not a business deduction nor is the fan fickle. Thanks for appreciating a great fan from a much-maligned city.

Horatio Peck

I enjoyed your article. As a former long-suffering Red Sox fan I certainly can identify with the Eagles fans.

The Pats are simply a better team, are just as hungry as ever and should win the Super Bowl. But if they don't win it I will be happy for Philly. Thanks to your article I feel I can't lose come what may. Let's just hope it's a great game and makes both the Philly area and N.E. proud.

Steve Salidas
Brewster, Mass.

I am an Eagles season ticket holder and live in the Fairmount/Art Museum area (I actually live a few blocks from Krupa's, but unfortunately have never been there). I attended the NFC championship game and, like one of the gentlemen at Krupa's, cried as I saw the seconds tick away. It's been a long time since I watched the 1980 Eagles beat the Cowboys 27-10 (I was 13).

As a life-long Philadelphian, I am proud of the Eagles and my city. Your "Bird Lovers" column was excellent. I sent it to all my friends and family.

Craig Ratner

Well, you, your friends and family need to get over to Krupa's. I told Joe Ferry the article would be good for business.