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NHL vs. NFL; boycotting games and gear; ‘screwed’ by Gary Bettman (The Vent)

(Ed. Note: Nearly every day for the last two months, we've received rants, raves, pleas and laments from hockey fans across the world about the NHL lockout. So we've decided to dedicate a forum to some of these eloquent diatribes every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday: THE VENT, where you can let your voice be heard on the players, owners and League in a handy PG-13 format. If you've got a take on the lockout and need to let it out, email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com, Subject: The Vent.)

Via reader Anthony, on what frustrated fans can do to make their local teams aware of their frustration:

"Like everyone else, I am extremely frustrated about the lockout. After seeing the effect that the NFL fans had on the league, I want to try doing something similar so that we as fans can be heard rather than ignored. All it takes is a small group of hockey fans to make an impact, and if the league or the players don't listen, well, then it proves what we've known all along: it's millionaires and billionaires squabbling over way too much money.

"I'm proposing something simple: just a phone campaign to politely tell the NHL and your favorite team how much hockey means in our lives. If you're into catchy/hokey slogans, maybe we could organize a "Fans Take Back the League" or something and get fans calling. I wasn't really into the idea of organizing dissent, however the NFL situation has given me both energy and hope that our voices will at least be acknowledged.

"My frustration stems not just from my desire to watch hockey, but how many lives are drastically affected by the lockout. My cousins all work for the Blackhawks, and they're very unsure of their futures with the organization, not to mention the countless others whose families depend on the game. Even if we can't organize a phone campaign, can I at least buy you a beer at an establishment that will be hurt by the lockout?"

Buying your friends at Puck Daddy as many beers as possible is the only way to end the lockout. This hasn't been scientifically proven yet, but we feel it's a matter of time until that happens.

As for the phone campaign: As "Slap Shot" taught us, let'em know you're there. Ultimately, the only thing they'll listen to is money walking out the door, but at least you'd give the office workers that haven't been laid off something to do.

Via Pete Santangeli, written before the NFL settled with its officials.

I hope the players are watching the current NFL officiating mess carefully…

1. Do they really think that NHL owners are substantially different than NFL owners? Seems to me that they are pretty much the same species.

2. The NFL owners are going nuclear over an inconsequential amount of money. The refs make a pittance, and will continue to make a pittance. With only 16 games a week, there also aren't that many of them.

3. The NFL owners clearly aren't terribly concerned about the reputation of the league, or any other 'soft' issues. They believe, probably correctly, that time heals all wounds, and that in the long run what is important is to win and not show weakness.

The message from this for the players should be pretty clear. If this type of organization is willing to go this far over this little money, then what would they do over the kind of money that separates the players association and the NHL.

The NHL will always be able to outlast the players. There may be some soft market teams like Phoenix that have issues — maybe even fold — over a prolonged lockout, but the big market teams, likely don't care. They'd just call it 'capitalist creative destruction' with full awareness that there is a line of other cities waiting to take their place. And watching a few cities go down would likely cost them less than giving up more in revenue sharing. As a matter of fact, it would very likely be a boon to them in terms of franchise fees.

A lot of people had a sinking feeling when Fehr was made head of the union. He's a hard ass and is wiling to drive the bus off a cliff if that's what it takes to win. But that just makes it all more destructive, because the owners are playing their own game with their own set of rules.

You're right on all points, and we'd would proffer that the only reasons the NFL settled with the refs was because (a) the NFL players union was starting to make noise about issues of player safety and (b) because it was starting to affect money being wagered on the games.

[More: Ten things you didn't know about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman]

On the Donald Fehr observation … we started to get the same sinking feeling while reading the end of Jonathan Gatehouse's book on Gary Bettman, "The Instigator." It's a question of us don't want answered: Why would the NHLPA hire Donald Freakin' Fehr to settle this thing in October?

Shutter …

Here's a musical interlude from Evan "Hammer" Hammond, Morning Show Host - 93.3 The Peak FM and Play-by-Play Voice of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. To the tune of Kenny Rogers "Lucille":

From Eric K.:

Given all of the "new" fans the NHL has gotten over the last few years in part to a few great playoffs and the NBA lockout last year, won't the piece of the pie that the owners are fighting for be overall less after a prolonged lockout.  Those fans who are beginning to be but are currently not totally invested in the NHL will just move on to some other medium (i.e. back to the NBA) to fulfill their needs and will probably not be willing to invest in hockey right away, if not ever again.

Also, many people I feel will boycott the league much like a jilted lover who consistently is being cheated on finally musters up the courage to leave and move on.

The newbie fans leaving will be something measured on a market by market basis. Would the Boston Bruins bandwagon be as full, two years removed from the Cup and after a cancelled season? Or the Blackhawks, three years removed? Would the gains in Nashville and Los Angeles recede? How deeper will the hole be for teams like Dallas, currently rebuilding in front of empty seats?

You'll notice we didn't mention any Canadian teams. They came back last time. But are two lockouts in seven years enough to convince even those with religious fervor for the NHL to abandon ship?

Here's Anaheim Ducks fan Matt Given (@mgiven8) with a West Coast lament:

I live in Orange County, CA and have been a Ducks fan for a while.  I understand lockouts and these things happen.  As much as I hated the last one in '05 I saw some of the benefits, especially after Selanne was able to rehabilitate his knee and came back stronger than ever! There seemed to be a myriad of changes the NHL installed last time from rules, to the salary cap, etc. so I can forgive them that one.

But this one is tough to swallow. As you guys have mentioned, the game is better, revenue is up and everything seemed to be going well, so why lockout.

So here's my struggle as a hockey fan in a non-traditional market. If I want to protest this situation, whether it be through not buying merchandise, or going to games, then I help affect the revenue of my market. Then as the revenue of my market goes down, my non-traditional market will be seen as not being able to support hockey and an argument will eventually be made for relocation.

It's a Catch-22 for these markets.

Here's my worry - if 10,000 fans in Toronto protest by not buying tickets for a season once the lockout is over then there will be more than enough to cover that amount who don't mind.  If 10,000 fans in Anaheim, or Florida, or Dallas, etc decide to protest by not buying tickets, then those markets will struggle because admittedly we have less fans.

So by caring about hockey and protesting the actions of the NHL, owners and players, I will be supporting an argument that my market doesn't care about hockey because revenue is down.

We can't win.

Hopefully this all makes sense.  I would love to be able to show a way to protest this lockout and not hurt my market at the same time.

I thought this might make a post for you guys and see if the hockey community can come up with a solution. Then again, those in Quebec or Ontario might suggest I never go to another game so that they can get a team that much quicker!

Well, yeah, there is that.

It is a Catch-22, but it's also the only way to get their attention, too.

Finally … well, not every fan rant is Hemingway. Here is the scatological response from Firebelly Sound to the lockout:

What a waste of water.

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