2013 NHL Game On: Two fans, two opinions

Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω

The NHL is a business, not a right

I wore my Mike Richards jersey today – it’s the first time it has seen the light of day since the end of last season. There’s a part of me that would like to say I’m going to make the NHL and the NHLPA “pay” for what they’ve done to hockey fans and the game, but to be honest I don’t really care. I woke up today with a smile on my face and the knowledge that NHL hockey will be returning in just a few short weeks, there’s no point in holding on to anger.

Over the next few weeks I will yet again pay for the NHL Centre Ice package, I will wear NHL merchandise, watch games on TV and buy into hockey pools with my friends. I have no delusions that I will boycott the game. If someone offered me tickets to an NHL game next weekend I would be there before warm-ups started.

I don’t see the point to ignoring the NHL now that it’s back. For months I’ve complained about the NHL hiatus, which has only been compounded by hours of NBA highlights taking over SportsCentre.

Why would I continue to punish myself now?

The NHL is a business and as unfortunate as it may be, fans need to remember that — it would help them to take all of this less personally. B.C. has seen its share of labour disputes over the last few years, even on our own campus last semester and few people complain about that. Sure the situations tend to be different, the money involved and the issues at hand aren’t comparable, but the principle doesn’t change: players are employees who want what they’ve earned and been promised; owners want to maximize their revenue and own thriving businesses. Can anyone blame either of them for that?

In the hours following Sunday’s settlement, players and league executives have spoken about their desire to make things right with fans — call me naive but I believe them. The fact is, they were just doing their jobs and like it or not, all of us were caught in the crossfire. The endgame of the lockout wasn’t to punish fans, it was the unfortunate side effect.

So when the NHL starts up in a few weeks I will be watching, as faithful as ever. Sure, I was put out by the lockout but I understand that the realities of running a professional sports league can’t always jive with what makes fans happy. People will get over the lockout, whether they’re able to recognize that right now or not.

Like the negotiations it will just take a little time.

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

Don’t forget about the little guy

Here we are. It is Jan. 9 and if NHL training camps haven’t already begun, they are just about to.

I would like to take a brief moment to do my best Roberto Luongo impression and pump my own tires.

Rewind back to Sept. 17, 2012, as the NHL lockout tip-toed into what would eventually become a 113-day drama fest for fans, players, owners and sponsors alike. In my half of The Omega‘s “2012 NHL Lockout: Two fans, two opinions,” I stated my prediction for the 2012-13 NHL season:

“I hate to say it, but I don’t expect to have NHL hockey back on my calendar until January 2013.”

Hold the applause. No, please, you’re too kind.

Okay, let’s be real. NHL hockey is back, which is great. Why? Here is something the casual fan has probably not realized. While we witnessed months of back-and-forth, child-like bickering on the part of billionaire NHL owners and millionaire NHL players, there was a much more significant group of individuals impacted by the NHL lockout. I like to refer to them as the “little guys.”

Support staff, arena employees and the food and beverage industry were hit harder by this lockout than any player or owner could ever fathom. In places like Florida, the Panthers were forced to lay-off employees, leaving many jobless. Sports bars and restaurants all over the nation were left empty. In an article written by James Brooks for the Boston Business Journal on Sept. 10, 2012, Pat Moscaritolo, CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau stated that each Boston Bruins home game is worth $850,000 to $1 million in money generated outside of the arena itself. These types of losses resulted in the cutting of numerous shifts and decline of tips for servers coast-to-coast on both sides of the border.

Whether you do or don’t live in an NHL city, I would like to encourage you to go out and support the little guy instead of forking over hundreds of dollars for a big-league ticket. Drop a greenback and have a beverage and plate of wings at your local sports pub. The student servers working in those establishments will thank you. I can guarantee the million-dollar athletes and billion-dollar owners won’t thank you for coming through their turn-styles. Okay, maybe they will. But it will be superficially painted on the ice and you won’t have any face-to-face conversation that communicates that superficial appreciation to you.

Let’s jump back to Sept. 17, 2012 once again. Despite losing NHL hockey, I had a plan to quench my thirst for Canada’s beautiful game.

“In the meantime, I plan on fulfilling my thirst for Canada’s game by checking out my local Canadian Major Junior club, my campus’ varsity hockey team and the local junior B squad that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.”

Don’t forget that. Just because the world’s best players have returned, doesn’t mean great products don’t still exist at the more pure levels of our nation’s sport.

Be happy the NHL is back. Soak it up and breath it in. But don’t forget about the little guy just because the big guy is back.