Here we are with November under way and the only excitement these next 30 days appear to be bringing, will be the mustache’s that the male population will sport for the annual Movember cause. Instead of 10 or so hockey games under NHL teams’ belts, each one sits not only even in record, but with seemingly less and less chance of having any games played this season. Not trying to be “Debbie Downer” here, but if the Winter Classic is cancelled, or maybe by the time you read this it already has, the balance of the season won’t be far behind.
The Winter Classic in the past few seasons has become the showcase game for the NHL, giving fans all across North America, and even Europe, an opportunity to see the beauty, grace, and charisma that hockey brings. Those of us who already know that, anticipate the game as though it’s another unwrapped Christmas present waiting under our tree. Your entire day is devoted to the build up which includes pre-game coverage, a look back at the previous season’s matchup, and of course the game itself. When this game doesn’t happen the damage to the NHL could be devastating. Too strong of a word? Think about the ramifications of not playing this game.
There will be no HBO 24/7 series to watch which would have allowed fans of this years opponents to familiarize themselves with the likes of Dion Phanuef, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Phil Kessel. Not to mention seeing such wonderful personalities as Brian Burke and Jimmy Devallano, the two execs of Toronto and Detroit respectively.
NBC will become absolutely livid and begin to ask themselves why the h-e-double hockey sticks did we sign such a lucrative contract with this league, only to have this happen in the first year of our new commitment! (Although I’m sure they’ve already questioned themselves.) The companies who were lined up to pay good money for exposure of their products on your big screen television won’t have the chance to do that. The public relations firms and advertising agencies who’ve been working hard to come up with their craftiest ideas, some of which are hilarious, will have wasted their efforts for nothing. Pardon the pun, but the cancellation of the Winter Classic will create quite the snowball effect in a number of areas.
That said, it would likely mean that all games in December would be on the brink of being cancelled as well, and since we’re at it, the balance of the season won’t be far behind. This isn’t just both the NHL and NHLPA shooting themselves in the foot, they are shooting themselves in the head, with the bullet coming out the back, and into the hearts of fans everywhere. You cannot begin to fathom the amount of fallout from NHL faithful this is going to cause. In addition to the other “league partners” that have been mentioned.
A lost season, which would be the second within a decade is borderline disaster for a game that was approaching it’s height of popularity. It might as well be the kiss of death for a sport that has been fighting to get noticed, become a staple within the four major sports, and now runs the risk of falling behind soccer, or dare I say Nascar!
The players have seemingly agreed to a 50/50 split of revenue, as long as the current contracts are honored in full. The owners apparently aren’t willing to accept both stipulations of that offer and want to pull back (roll back) the contracts that were offered to players in good faith. The public relations tug of war that developed just a couple weeks ago saw the Luntz group determine that fans just want hockey back (duh). That led to the owners quickly offering what “fans” thought was an acceptable proposal to the players. Within days the PA turned the pressure back on the owners by offering three proposals which were shot down within minutes. I think most divorces go smoother than this nonsense. All momentum for teams like the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, and a host of others will come to a crashing halt. The apathy of hockey lovers is setting in with each passing day in which nothing happens. There is no doubt that fans, businesses, and companies everywhere will become disenchanted, walk away, and potentially never come back. The future fans, you know, the “little one’s” who are exposed to the game by their parents, could be lost as well. When mom and dad, or your big brother or sister stop watching hockey (when it does comes back), they likely will too. Do you honestly think that Little Miss Rat Trick would be such a huge hockey fan if not for her family? Want to know why she doesn’t watch Nascar? No one in this family does. The influential role that lies in the background of all this cannot be taken lightly or for granted.
I have said before, and I will say again, both sides are wrong, and both sides need to figure out a way to pony up and settle this monster. Cancelling the entire season will do nothing but to ensure that fans, advertisers, and major supporters could be lost for good. Not to mention the possibility of a couple teams folding. And that casualty is one that no one wants to feel.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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