“It’s just hockey.” This is something that I’ve been hearing a lot lately, both from hockey fans and other people that couldn’t care less about the current NHL lockout. Fair enough, the level of importance in this matter is different for everyone. When it comes down to it, a professional sport product is just entertainment, right? Even in a city like Vancouver where hockey and everything Canucks related is binge consumed, there are still those that simply see it as ‘just something to do’. Maybe that’s a healthier outlook than some of us bring to our own personal hockey fandom…
Canucks tickets are not cheap and neither is the cost of living in Vancouver. Yet that is no deterrent for some seasons tickets holders to deplete their bank accounts and max out their credit cards with the hope that maybe this will be the season, maybe this will be our year to win the Stanley Cup. It’s an exciting thought and some of us do care. Hockey is kind of a big deal in this city. In fact hockey is a big deal in Canada. It is also a big deal in many of the current NHL markets (the jury is still out on Phoenix and Florida where people attend hockey games for the air conditioning.)
It’s no secret that the NHL has locked out its players because of money. For fans it’s frustrating to sit back and wait until the NHL owners and the NHLPA to come to a mutual decision on how to divide up billions of dollars fairly. They’re also betting on the fans fully returning to consume their beloved hockey once the owners have comfortably decided on the percentage of all hockey related revenue they will take. Sure both sides want more money, it’s a business that makes obscene amounts of it and there are plenty of fans that want to happily contribute to that. I had some really awesome birthday gifts that I planned on getting from the NHL.com store but not anymore! Boo to you NHL, I’m getting cool gifts from somewhere else!
In the meantime, “It’s just hockey” is something that will sadly be heard by those whose paychecks rely on it. Not just the owners or the player or the $8 million dollar NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman. It’s the employees that work at the NHL games (think of the ice crew girls here NHL!) the mascots, the office staff, the sports writers and even bloggers who now have to find other sources of hockey related news to fill the void. It seems ridiculous to me that an already profitable business will take such drastic actions, for the third time in two decades, as shutting out its workforce unnecessarily while conspiring about how to become more profitable. That’s business, yes. But is it good business and good for the long run of the product and the sport? Time will tell, but I doubt it.
So yes fans, there is a lockout and we have to just deal with it. Maybe it’s a useful reminder, after all, we live in a country that routinely spends hundreds of million of dollars of public money on arenas for billionaire team owners. We live in a city that rioted after losing a big game. Maybe some perspective is exactly what we need!
And anyway, at least there are other related activities to occupy ourselves with such as the AHL and the WHL and our social lives… Oh who am I kidding. Despite it all, we will survive as fans. Why? Because it’s just hockey.