Let's face the facts, things are looking bleak at best right now as the NHL and NHLPA still can't play nice. We are at great danger of losing the entire season and at this point there isn't looking like a season is going to be coming any time soon. But guess what... The fans don't care anymore!
Fans, writers, media members are all fed up with the depressing talk that is surrounding a new CBA, but has it gotten to the point where people are flat out losing interest?
Everyday, every time they meet and every time a "new" proposal is submitted, it's the same old story. "We're still far apart", "They didn't move much from their initial offer", "We're negotiating with ourselves". Negativity after negativity after negativity and fans are saying enough is enough! It's gotten to the point where fans, writers (including myself) honestly don't care whats happening between the two sides, we just want a deal done and the game we love back.
Now I was pretty young during the last lockout (11) but correct me if I'm wrong, there seems to be a lot less fans upset and depressed about the lockout. It's almost as if fans realize their lives will still go on without watching greedy millionaires chasing a rubber projectile around on 5 inch blades. Whenever people ask me what's going on with the NHL and whether I think we'll have a season, I explain things aren't looking good and the two sides are still far apart, they just shrug and say "oh well". Oh well?!? Really thats what it's come too, people could honestly care less whether we have hockey or not? Isn't hockey supposed to be the sport that unites our nation? Have we really become so accustomed to the NHL letting us down, that this current lockout is mere peanuts in the news?
In 2004-2005 the lockout took fans by shock. No one really expected the NHL to cancel an entire season to get what they wanted but they did. The two sides convinced the fans that the lockout was for the long term health of the game, but here we are 7 years later facing another lockout. This time fans knew this battle was coming, the NHLPA brought in Donald Fehr to insure they wouldn't get walked over and Bettman certainly wanted to make it clear this was his league and wouldn't be intimidated by anyone. This lockout everyone saw coming, the length of the lockout now thats a different story. But what are they going to tell us this time, that it's for the long-term health of the game? Great so we can look forward to a lockout every 7 years?
Something I thought I'd never see is the city of Toronto, arguably the most hockey-crazed city, more excited about the Toronto Blue Jays in November than the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have become an afterthought here in Toronto. Instead of "Did you see that goal by Kessel last night?" it's "How about them Blue Jays, finally bringing in some talent eh?". And as if it wasn't bad enough the Blue Jays are over shadowing the Leafs, the Toronto Argonauts had to jump into the mix by winning the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto. At this point in time the Leafs are the last team on everyones mind, never thought that would happen!
At this point the majority fans don't care whats happening in negotiations right now or whose fault it is, they just want this craziness to end and to be frank are shocked this lockout has dragged on this long.
To be honest it's hard to get excited about the NHL when you know we're going to end up in a mess in another 7-8 years. The league had arguably their best year ever and the game is at the highest it's ever been, now they're willing to throw all that away. By the time it recovers, if it ever does, it'll be time for another lockout.
Newsflash Bettman; The fans, you know the people who buy tickets, jerseys and attend the games are sick and tired of the same old routine. Keep taking advantage of them and you will lose them, for good. The less hockey we see results in losing more and more fans who can find better things to spend their money and time on.
Bottom line is the fans are fed up with the games being played by the NHL and NHLPA and a lot of them have moved on. There's not a lot of positivity floatingaround the NHL right now and that negativity may be around for the foreseeable future. At the end of the day the NHL is just a game, there's more to life than living every waking moment watching, fans are starting to realize that. NHL fans are starting to fall out of love with the NHL.