Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Thanks A Lot

Well. That's that. No season. I was able to listen to the official announcement over the internet just as class started. Thankfully we were doing a lab because I was able to let my group do most of the work while my mind stood in shock and disappointment (sorry guys). Not that I was surprised but I think near the end, I had foolishly allowed myself some hope, "No, they can't really cancel the season! The damage would be irreparable. Even those two aren't that pigheaded." I knew this would happen but that doesn't make it hurt any less. We are guaranteed that we will not see hockey until September at the earliest. I am so sorry for fans of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will have to wait to see their Stanley Cup banner raised to the rafters. I'm sorry for Steve Yzerman, who will probably never play again (just wait until that reality really sinks in, Wings fans). I am sorry for the new fans who were just becoming interested in this great game and who will probably move on to other sports, if they haven't already. It was "My Way or the Highway" for both sides and we fans got the highway. Gary Bettman says he's sorry but he has no idea what he's done. Apology not accepted, Gary. I will never forget his role in this. Ever. The same goes for Bob Goodenow. Those two should have gotten a deal done and they have effectively killed the league that I love. How the NHL will recover from this, I don't know. It will be incredibly difficult and, quite frankly, I doubt Gary Bettman is the right man for the job. He will probably get his "cost certainty" but, with him at the healm, this league will go on another crash course, if his previous track record is any indication. Owners of the teams of the NHL, I beg of you to fire that man. Players of the NHL, replace Goodenow. I have no more to say for now, except to point you to the following links. The first two of which may cause extreme anger, beware. The third is a great response to the cancellation from one of the best hockey blogs out there. The official statement made by Gary Bettman Gary Bettman's letter to the fans (PDF) Jes Golbez's response to the cancellation I may say more sometime soon but for now I'm too numb (and emotional at the same time) to say any more. I leave you with a few lines from a song called "Thanks A Lot" (hence the title of this post) by Third Eye Blind:
The clock, it bleeds for you but you never got the time in right I woke you up and I slit the throat of your confidence And we laughed in the night and I felt alright
That describes the situation pretty well, I think (the "I" and "we" being Bob and Gary). UPDATE: I will mourn for a time but I will move on to more important things. I can at least be thankful that I no longer have to devote so much time to speculation. Now I can worry about other things and put hockey on the backburner. Bettman had better hope I, and others like me, keep the flame burning. Tomorrow I will wear my jersey to classes with a black armband. And then I will move on. The posting will not stop but I don't expect a whole lot of news for a while now. Both sides will retreat into their little holes and prepare for the next round of rigid-offer negotiations. You know what the best part of all this is? The concessions each side made this week (on linkage for the NHL and on a cap for the NHLPA), have been retracted, having been made only for this special emergency. Now that there is no chance of a season, there is no need to compromise in order to get a deal done quickly. So wonderful. UPDATE2: I love this picture from TSN:
Too bad that wasn't the typical reaction here in the US, if a poll by ESPN that said 69% of fans do not care is any indication. UPDATE3: ESPN's Sportsnations has a survery here. Here are the results as of my vote: (my selection in bold)
1) Do you consider yourself a hockey fan? 63.1% Yes 36.9% No 2) What is your reaction to the NHL canceling their season? 47.9% I couldn't care less 36.6% I'll miss it -- but I'll find something else to do 15.5% Devastated -- now what am I going to do? 3) Who deserves the biggest share of the blame for the lost season? 68.8% Players 31.2% Owners 4) What is most likely to happen? 45.4% NHL eventually returns with a hard salary cap 37.3% NHL eventually returns with a soft salary cap (luxury tax/revenue sharing) 15.1% NHL ceases to exist 2.1% NHL eventually returns without a salary cap 5) Not counting baseball, basketball or football, what is your favorite professional sport? 49.9% Hockey 20.9% Golf 10.7% Soccer 9.9% Auto racing 8.6% Tennis 6) When do you think the lockout will end? 57.9% Before next season 19.4% Middle of next season 14.0% After next season 8.6% Before the draft (June) 7) Will the NHL play a full schedule next season? 64.1% Yes 35.9% No 8) How does the lost season impact the likelihood you would watch or attend a game next season? 46.0% About the same -- What's done is done 43.0% Less likely -- And support all the greed? 11.0% More likely -- I miss the game! 9) Would you watch/attend/follow NHL games if the league started next season with replacement players? 62.0% No 38.0% Yes 10) Could a rival hockey league be a success and take the NHL?s place? 51.9% No 48.1% Yes 11) How much have you followed other hockey leagues this season compared to past seasons? 57.7% I haven't followed it 20.8% About the same 15.2% More 6.2% Less 12) Which league have you followed? 58.1% Haven't followed any hockey 17.0% American Hockey League 15.9% NCAA 4.1% ECHL 3.0% Major junior 1.9% U.S. junior
UPDATE4: Forbes.com says to "Blame Bettman," a sentiment I wholly agree with, though it isn't all his fault. The owners are just as much at fault for bringing him to the league. He is more their man, I think, than they are his. Still, it's a good article and is a little more than the usual rhetoric we hear from ignorant fans everywhere (you know, "Buttman is an idoit"). This part here comes close to the problem of the owners, though it doesn't come out and say it:
30 teams from 24 teams in the 1990s. Aside from the quick $80 million the owners got to divvy up when teams were sold, the expansion was a disaster. By putting franchises in places like Nashville and Atlanta--cities that think the Stanley Cup is some type of athletic supporter--Bettman destroyed the sport's economics. (my emphasis)
Expansion wasn't just to get the message out about hockey. It was about money and it's just another point against the owners. The author's final words echo my thoughts exactly:
If the NHL is ever to recover from the debacle created by Bettman, it must put in place a commissioner with hockey in his blood and tremendous integrity. Someone who the fans can identify with and trust. It needs someone who has enough guts to eliminate some teams in order to make the NHL stronger. Wayne Gretzky, anyone?
Wouldn't that be a great end to the Gretzky Legend? There's a comissioner I could live with, though there is something to Bettman's being a businessman. Still, a hockey man should be the leader of the worlds foremost hockey league. Another foolish hope, true, because it makes too much sense but it's a nice though, eh? Anyway, Jason of the Predator's Den wrote a letter to the owner of the Preds, Craig Leipold. Go read it. He speaks for all of us with what he says. Great job, Jason. Every owner should be getting letters like that from fans. UPDATE5: The Captain thinks there's so still hope. He told The Hockey News:
"I don't know if it's necessarily tonight, tomorrow morning, Friday night or Saturday. I know the season has been cancelled, but it's not too late to uncancel it."
I don't see it. If they talk before a month has passed, I will be shocked.

2 Comments:

At 2/18/2005 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Christy Hammond said...

You always say things perfectly. It's like exactly what I'm thinking except you can actually write it down and have it make sense. Nice long entry. It does good to vent after a disaster like this...

 
At 2/18/2005 02:18:00 PM, Blogger Matt Saler said...

Thanks Christy. I haven't fully articulated what I feel about this but I appreciate the compliment.

 

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