I’ve been avoiding the lockout post because I’m completely fed up with the whole thing and it hasn’t even started. It baffles me how a league willingly shuts itself down when revenues are at record highs, the TV deal they’ve been waiting on for years is in place and there is actual fan interest in some of the bigger US markets. If there isn’t a way to equitably divide three-point-whatever billion dollars, then they don’t really deserve to have any of it.
That sounds like some sort of manifesto for fan revolt, which I won’t get into because that sort of thing only works when it’s organic. Any conscious attempt to “show who’s boss” works out about as well as those silly “let’s teach the gas companies a lesson” spam messages that always clutter your inbox. Honestly, if you don’t buy gas on Wednesday, it just means a banner day on Thursday. People come back if there’s a legitimate need. The NHL knows this and it’s why they don’t fear us.
Still, both sides are playing the PR games, hoping to get the fans on board (to what end, I am not sure). That’s why I find this card so apt for this subject. Woodman is the fan – tired, drained, sensing loss and incapable of doing much of anything about it. Standing above him, trying to be reassuring, are the two parties causing him most of the grief. “Don’t worry, ” they say, “we’ll never leave you.” Well, great. That just means the whole thing will repeat yet again and we will never get out of this fool cycle. The message is clearly not what he wants or needs to hear.
Freddie Washington was an athlete, so he can represent Fehr and the NHLPA. He’s making much more of an overture to the fan, showing a lot more interest. Of course, he needs to. His power is limited and he needs the fans to back him – not that it will really help. Epstein becomes Bettman by default – and it fits. He’s got the smirk happening, leaning on the players while looking down at the fans. I don’t think there’s much concern there.
Woodman, of course, would likely be happiest if they would leave him. This is true both from the perspective of the show and the lockout. We don’t need them here telling us how much they care. We need them solving the CBA before they trash another season. That’s how you show you care. It’s not about the fan, however. It never was.
In 2004, the lockout generated a ton of fan passion. As a fan, you sided with the owners or the players and thousands upon thousands of lines were written all over the web, furiously arguing and defending positions. That just isn’t happening this time out. There is no honour to defend, no belief set to put forth. We’re just waiting, hoping for action instead of platitudes – and getting more tired by the day.