Wednesday, 3 October 2012

5 more reasons to hate the lockout...

76 goals by a rookie in a single season - incredible! Of course I'm talking about none other than the 'Finnish Flash'; the great Teemu Selanne, who 20 years later, is still in the NHL.

Last season's tally of 26 goals (including this beauty) helped him ecplise Brendan Shanahan for #12 on the all time scorers list:

It's October. He should be gearing up for yet another great season. Instead we are in the midst of a lockout...... again!

Selanne, among others, is in my top 5 reasons to hate the lockout:

#1 All time greats potentially retiring: That in itself isn't an issue. All players careers have to eventually come to an end. However, it's the fact they are potentially leaving with less of a bang and more of a whimper. There is no big farewell, no mention of the fanfare that they so clearly deserve. There is no greater danger of this than with two of the most exciting hockey players of all time -  Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne.

Given how much they have given to the NHL (both having eclipsed 650 goals - something only 11 other players in NHL history have done) they deserve that fanfare.

Is a lockout an appropriate goodbye to the #11 and #12 all time goal scorers? They deserve more than this!

                                      Jagr scoring his 650th goal

#2 Seen Stamkos? No, you haven't. And you may not get to this season. This is extremely  disappointing given the fact he is coming off the back of a 60 goal season, with the potential to trump that this time around! Realistically, he has 2-3 more seasons left of his goal scoring peak (work that magic Gary Roberts), yet here is 1 of them absolutely squandered. Thanks NHL and NHLPA!

Stamkos doing what he does best (just in case you have forgotten already):

#3 Crosby: He is finally healthy. Love him or hate him he is without a doubt one of the most electrifying players to watch, and is apparently at peak fitness and raring to go. Given his current injury streak odds are he's going to play in Europe and get injured again!

#4 Missing brilliant goals: Self explanatory!

#5 Rookie surprises: Who didn't enjoy Ryan O'Reilly coming out of nowhere as a 2nd round pick to stick in the NHL straight after the draft? The first non-first round pick since Patrice Bergeron in 2003-04 season.

Every season there are a whole new list of rookie storylines that come out of (almost) nowhere. Last season no-one expected Shaw to storm onto the Blackhawks roster mid-season and score 23 points in 37 games. RNH (supposedly too small for the NHL) putting up 52 points in 62 games and Craig Smith a virtual unknown outside of Predators prospects fanatics scoring 17 goals.

The most depressing part about this piece is there are so many more points to make and so many great stories that will never be told.  We can only hope this is resolved soon.

To miss out on 1 game is bad enough - to be deprived of 1,230 is unthinkable!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Millionaires vs Billionaires: Who cares?

Millionaires vs Billionaires: Who cares?

Money, or to be more precise $3.3 billion USD. This is the revenue generated by the NHL in the 2011-2012 season.

Those are a lot of reasons to care about something, and an obvious source of conflict if it has to be divided.

The problem is: how to allocate it between the owners and the players: 57:43? 46:54? 50:50? Plenty of numbers have been thrown around through proposals, speculation and pure guesswork. Blame is  being bandied back and forth. There are talks of concession and even 'sacrifice'.

Everyone has a different view on the whole topic. A PR war is being raged as I type, with some brilliant crisis management on display; just look at the players video released as a message to fans:

To quote Puck Daddy, "Get Toews and Backes in front of as many cameras as possible. They sell the PA side of this with believable integrity." And it's true, they make brilliant figures to base a spin campaign on, but that's all it is at this point - one side spinning things to sell an idea, a concept, a belief - their beliefs.

The NHL owners are also releasing their own version of 'A message to our fans'. They aptly finish the message with the line, "We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans." This is what is forgotten throughout all of the spin and all of the PR point scoring - the NHL fans.

The truth of the matter is that point scoring means nothing to a fan. That there have been a total of four strikes or lockouts since 1991 (the year I was born - therefore a great year!) speaks volumes.

So while talk of 'sacrifice' is being used by the NHL and NHLPA, it is just wrong. It is not they who are sacrificing, it is us - the fans!

The average wage across the USA/Canada is $46,500 a year. It is these salaries that are used to fund a career that the fans themselves dream of, so the players may live that dream. The average NHL salary is $2.4 million, while the average NHL franchise is now worth $240 million. Who is sacrificing more? The player, the owner or the fan?

This story has been covered in a variety of ways by a number of reporters and bloggers; many seem to blame the owners or the players and a few incredibly blame the fans for their rabid support of the NHL even after the last lockout. Ulitmately the players and the owners are in this because of the fans - those who dream of playing in the NHL; those who watch every game and witness every moment. There are $3.3 billion reasons why the NHL is locked out, but they are missing the point:

The NHL isn't about the money to the fan - it's about the memories. And because of that, I do not care who 'wins' the labour strike; the NHL or the NHLPA, because as a fan I have already lost.

This is why I post this petition and video - not because I believe in the message that 'Bettman is the sole cause'; but because you do need to get angry; you do need to make some noise and you need to stand up and be heard in any way you can.

The NHL is created FOR the fans, funded BY the fans, aimed AT the fans. Yet is currently locked out DESPITE the fans and I for one have had enough!