It looks like they have a deal. After 113 days of a lockout the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and the NHL owners have tentatively agreed to a resolution that would see the league return for a shortened season starting on Jan. 19.
For a while there it certainly looked like there would be no hockey this year, but at the last second NHL president Gary Bettman and NHLPA union chief Donald Fehr, and their various cronies, put together a deal to save the season.
Hockey, and the NHL in particular, is more than sport here in Canada, it’s life. Young Canadians grow up with a stick in their hand and are as comfortable on skates as in shoes. Hitting, fighting, passing, deking, great plays and great saves are what hockey is all about.
Of course, the NHL these days appears to be more about dollars and more dollars as greedy millionaire players and greedier billionaire owners squabble over a bigger piece of the pie. Do they not realize that the pie they are fighting over is the hard-earned money from fans who have full-time jobs so they can support their families?
It’s easy to look back at the ‘good old days’ and wonder about the time when a hockey game at the ol’ Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver cost $10 and that included parking and a hot dog and a pop. I remember taking a date to watch Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers play the Canucks and the whole night cost less than $25 for the two of us.
Okay, I get it – inflation, yeah, everything goes up. But it’s pretty crazy to be complaining about your income when you are charging families $60 a ticket and that’s for the cheap seats. That doesn’t include parking, which is usually another $10 and food and drinks on top of that.
So what is a beleaguered (or de-leaguered) hockey fan to do? Some are talking a full-on boycott of all things NHL. Others say, ‘let’s boycott opening night.’ Others are more forgiving and are willing to maybe watch the games, but only if they come up on the TV.
In truth, I figure most fans will come back eventually albeit hesitantly. Most sooner than later even. In a few years people will have pretty much forgotten all about the season that was almost lost. At least until the next lock-out or strike action.