Devils and Rangers fans working together? This is serious.
With no meetings scheduled mere hours from the deadline, the NHL work stoppage is all but a certainty at this point. But that didn't prevents the folks behind No Hockey Lockout from protesting outside the NHL store in New York on Saturday.
It wasn't much. Only about 20 hockey fans showed up, according to Helene Elliott, disappointing organizers hoping for a larger presence.
Even more disheartening, efforts to organize similar protests in Montreal, Boston, and Tampa Bay didn't appear to amount to anything. "Not a [expletive] soul in Montreal", tweeted transplanted 18-year-old Rangers' fan Oliver Quintal, who was aiming to lead the protest at the Bell Centre.
"It was bittersweet," said Russell, who organized the New York protests. "I didn't expect that we would have thousands and thousands of people, but I definitely had more RSVPs than people that showed. That part was a little disappointing. But we got our voices out there. The people that were there were very passionate about it, and we all had fun."
Most disheartening of all, everybody on the Avenue of the Americas knew full well that it would do nothing to prevent the inevitable. Even so, the small group made their voices heard from noon to 3pm, just as they had planned.
Plus, they modelled putting aside differences by coming together regardless of fan allegiance, and that has to count for something.
"We had pretty much the entire Atlantic Division represented," Russell boasted. "Minus Islanders fans."
Admittedly, Islanders fans can be tough to find.
Sure, it didn't change much, but it was a yet another reminder that NHL fans care deeply and, unlike the owners and the players -- who haven't met since Wednesday -- they are unwilling to go quietly into the lockout.
Protests like these have caught plenty of flak for being ineffective, even from yours truly, but as Quintal told the New York Hockey Journal on Friday, this protest wasn't about solving everything. It was simply about being heard:
"I fully understand the cynicism of the public and journalists," Quintal said. "I know that the protest will not change the world, but I feel it's necessary for me to express my anger and my sadness when I see owners and players… keeping us from having a season of watching our national sport. I would not feel right to let this happen without knowing that I did my small part."
Russell was proud of what the group did, too.
"I didn't expect that the league would go ahead and walk outside and say, 'you know what, we're gonna go with the PA's deal.' I just wanted to try and get the fans' voice out there and at least have some kind of say. At least people are talking about it."
And hey, the small protest may not have stopped the lockout, but at least it gave us this sign:
Ah ah ah.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney
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