The Vent: Thanking Gary Bettman; if Drake rapped about the lockout

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, Subject: The Vent.)

Reader Martin Devon would like to thank the commissioner for, ahem, readjusting the popularity of the NHL:

I'm a long time hockey fan who would like to thank Gary Bettman for his contribution to the game of hockey.

When I was 8 years old, my dad made a deal with me: If I did well in school, he would take me to see a real live hockey game at the Montreal Forum. I held up my end of the bargain, so my dad got tickets for us to see the Game 2 semi-final game against the Flyers. Back then (this was 40 years ago), getting a ticket to a Habs game at the Forum was impossible. God knows what he had to pay for the nosebleed seats we got.

I grew up, moved to Los Angeles and became an LA Kings fan, a totally different experience. Sure, the team didn't win, but there were compensations. I could actually see the game live without the aid of binoculars. Wow. I never realized how fast NHL'ers were. Or the how intense it is when a two players crash into the boards.

For my birthday, my wife got center ice, third row seats to see the Kings play the Habs. I thanked her profusely and she looked at me quizzically -- "what's the big deal?"  You could buy tickets on the glass for less than my dad paid for tickets in the rafters in Montreal. Finally I could enjoy great hockey in affordable seats. You didn't have noisy crowds to deal with. You could get a beer and a hot dog without waiting in a long line. You could get out of the parking lot quickly. What a joy!

But then Bruce McNall bought the team and brought that Gretzky fellow to play here. Oy!  Now it started to get crowded. You could get seats but it became much more expensive. It got worse when those party poopers Tim Leiweke and Dean Lombardi got involved. They had to move the team into a fancy new area. Then the SOB's crossed the line -- they built a strong team. Worse yet, the team put it all together and the Kings won the cup. Now LA is starting to have the same problems we used to have in Montreal.

The damn rink is so crowded. We have stupid parades down Figueroa street. People who never heard of hockey are starting to take an interest. "Hey what's that parade for?"  "What's that shiny silver cup for?" Shut up! Nothing to see here. Move along.

I had to wait 3 hours to get my damn picture taken with the cup. They even sold out season tickets this year! What the hell?

The Kings organization is ruining hockey for me. Hockey was supposed to be my private thing.

Enter my hero Gary Bettman to the rescue. He recognized that hockey is getting too popular and came up with the perfect solution -- the LOCKOUT!  Sure, it hasn't slowed down the popularity of hockey in Canada yet, but you have to give Gary time. It is already starting to work over here.

Did you know that there are only 4 more preseason basketball games before the NBA season starts? That first month where the Kings could market to fans before basketball starts? Gone. Meanwhile, the Lakers picked up Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to play with Kobe Bryant (Canadians, think Parise and Suter signing with Philly). Genius!  That's all you hear about anywhere. Sure, the sports radio guys were lamenting the lockout a bit this summer:

"Bummer about the Kings. I was just starting to learn about the sport. Seems like fun...oh well. After the break, we'll talk about how Lakers practice went. Stay tuned on ESPN710."

Hockey is fading away. If Gary can stretch the lockout to take out the whole year before you know it all those crowds will be gone, I can get my cheap glass seats again and enjoy hockey in peace and quiet as it was meant to be enjoyed.

Thank you Gary. I appreciate all your efforts. Don't think that they go unnoticed.

Kyle Allen wants you to run to your windows, open them up, stick your heads out and scream a now-cliché line from a classic 1975 Sidney Lumet film:

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a recession. Everybody's out of work and scared of losing their hockey. The dollar buys a nickel's worth of players, teams are going bust, fans wear a football jersey in public. Basketball fans are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it.

We know the players make too much and their contracts are too long, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that CBA talks have ended without a deal, as if that's the way it's supposed to be! We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy! It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my Playstation and my TV and my NHL 13 and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone!'

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone! I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to the Board of Governors because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the Southern Expansion and the unrestricted free agency and the KHL and the cheap shots along the boards. All I know is that first you've got to get mad! You've got to say, "I'm a hockey fan, goddammit! My life has value!"

So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now, and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Reader Laurie Owens isn't pleased with the NHL's owners, and is wondering why the commish would dare court the rage of one Sidney Crosby:

Angry? Sad? Disappointed? Oh, all of effing above.

Who was throwing money around like Albert Haynesworth in a Vegas strip club? Um, quite a few NHL owners. So by paring down HRR (learning to hate those letters) and essentially adding a buyer's remorse clause, they are behaving like the arrogant a-holes that Gary Bettman really is. They have the power and control, but seem truly intent on using it for evil.

While it is their choice to play, the players are on the ice taking the risk. They don't know if tomorrow could be their last game or not.

How much did the pay Frank Luntz anyway? Was it worth the cost of a season? An entire fan base? I love hockey and will miss it greatly, but I am not willing to put a dime (US or Canadian) into the pockets of the owners while they carry out Gary's pricey ego trip gone terribly wrong.


PS -- Gary has angered Sid. Really?? You want to piss off the face of your league?? It's only a matter of time before he goes to Russia to join Geno.

Via Jeanshorts and Bagged Milk ... this is dramatic. (One NSFW word in text.)

Reader Dallas King has a message for Gary Bettman on how the lockout really affects families and those who love the sport:

Dear Commissioner Gary Bettman:

My name is Dallas King, I live in west central Alberta and I am a DIE HARD OILERS fan! I am writing a detailed letter to vent my frustration with the NHL lockout.

I want to start with a little background. I am the oldest of 3 boys in my family, my father is a huge Oilers fan and he was so lucky to have 3 boys on the dates that he did. I was born in 1985, my middle brother Morgan born in 1988, and my youngest brother Graham born in 1990. Yes all three of those years were Edmonton Oiler Stanley Cup years. So to say the least we didn't have a chance who we were cheering for. So having grown up with such an influence from my father, it took the last lockout to realize where this came from and it broke my heart.

During the last lockout in 2004-2005 I came to notice something that I took for granted so many years before. A few years before the last lockout, my father's mom had passed away, so my grandfather was all alone. He was one of the biggest hockey fans I ever knew, and it was that tradition that he passed on to my dad who eventually passed on to me and my brothers. After my grandma passed away my grandpa just watched hockey, at night, during the day, on weekdays, on weekends, whenever he could he just watched any game that was on, it was like a getaway for him. On that 2004-2005 lockout year it all changed. The one thing that was a comfort to him, his passion was gone. He was lost, he could not watch the NHL that year. I noticed that he wasn't the same, he was getting old and couldn't do much, he moped around and I could tell it just killed him that there was no hockey. It broke my heart to see that, because this affects EVERYONE.

Fast forward to this year, and this lockout has brought a familiar situation. My mom's dad.

My mom's mom passed away 3 years ago, leaving my other grandpa all alone. I know that he is a hockey fan, maybe not to the extent of my grandpa I just previously talked about but I can't believe this is happening again!

This NHL lockout hits close to home just like the last one, as it becomes personal. I want to keep the tradition alive of being able to watch hockey with my grandpa as you never know how long you will have with that person.

So Gary Bettman, you see, this affects all people, all over the world. Not just the owners, or the players, or the people that work for the teams, or the players families, or the workers families, but the fans, and the tradition those fans are trying to keep alive. In the name of the fans please end this lockout.


Dallas King

Finally, reader Bryan Vickroy of The Sports Bank was inspired by our own Harrison Mooney's "Lockout Man":

Being inspired by Harrison's splendid rendition of "Lockout Man" I have created my own lockout music. The following is an ode to the commish's desires of the current lockout. Enjoy "Garys Room", a hip check/R&B in the tune of "Marvins Room" by Drake. Enjoy.

And here you go:

Drake … GOOD CANADIAN BOY. (/DonCherry'd!)