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Hockey fans: there is nothing you can do to prevent a lockout

Harrison Mooney
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As the September 15th lockout draws ever nearer, dismaying NHL zealots all around the world, it's been impossible not to notice the Canadian influence on the hockey fan populace. The innate Canadian need to apologize -- to assume blame and to lose a little dignity in the name of peace -- has risen to the surface.

It's a nice trait, of course. But it's not always appropriate, and it hasn't been lately. It's because of this attitude that this has to be said:

For the love of God, hockey fans, this impending lockout is not -- I repeat not -- your fault.

Nothing you did necessitated it and, similarly, nothing you do can stop it. Any attempt to force the hand of the NHL and NHLPA in these negotiations is a fool's errand.

You are not doormats, as a recent Bruce Dowbiggin column suggested, because that would imply there's some action you aren't taking.

You have no volition whatsoever in this dispute. You didn't cause it by coming back excitedly and pumping more money into the game after the last lockout and you aren't enabling it now by not threatening to pull that money out this time around.

I'd like to think these truths are self-evident, but hockey fans the world over seem hellbent on attempting to orchestrate their own "Network" moment, stamping their feet and telling the NHL that a lockout will upset them as though it wasn't already perfectly clear.

Thus, we've been inundated with attempts to start grassroots movements and protests over the last few weeks. There's Unfollow NHL, which seems to think the league will respond to a brief loss of Twitter followers and Facebook likes, and only underscores how bad the Internet generation has become at getting political. There's You Have Two Weeks, which threatens the NHL with two weeks notice, yet does little to harden a soft deadline.

Other fans have attempted to organize public demonstrations outside of where the CBA negotiations are being held.

There are petitions too, such as Mike Fraser's, which threatens the NHL with a boycott, and Hockeyy Insiderr's petition, which he claims will actually be shown to the NHL owners, because he knows them all or some such tripe. Steve Simmons, meanwhile, suggested a Winter Classic boycott.

Then there's Janne Makkonen's beautiful "Together We Can", an impassioned, eight-minute video, which even features a moving song of fan protest.

Of course, the issue all of these movements and videos and public protests have -- on top of treating our right to NHL hockey like it's inalienable -- is they belie their own threat of action by showing how desperately fans care. When you care that much, you're not going to follow through on a promise to walk away from the NHL cold turkey should they fail to reach an agreement in two weeks.

Don't be ridiculous. You're crackheads threatening to quit crack unless the price of crack comes down.

But here's the thing: despite what everyone is saying, there is no need to feel guilty about that. Stop being so bloody Canadian about this. Don't feel bad for the haste with which you returned to the fandom following the last lockout. Don't feel guilty for the haste with which you'll return next time.

It's not your fight.

We are the children in this divorce. This isn't our fault. Sure, we'll suffer as children always suffer in these disputes, but we did nothing wrong. It has nothing to do with us, and threatening to run away from home unless our parents make up accomplishes nothing outside of underscoring how precociously naive we are.

These boycotts don't make anyone take us seriously because they make us look like petulant kids. They don't merit action. They merit a tousling of the hair, an acknowledgement that maybe one day we'll understand, but sometimes this is just how it is.

Hockey fans can do a great many things. Settling a fight between millionaires and billionaires is not one of them.

Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney

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