Dear Commissioner Bettman
I regret to be writing to you even in the first place, but these are desperate times. The CBA of your sport is set to expire September 15, just 12 days from now, and talks between the owners and Players Union have completely broken down. No talks means no progress and no progress means no hockey. That doesn’t sit will with me. That is why I am writing to you. You see, I am a fan of your great sport. I enjoy the finesse of the forwards, the physicality of the hits, the flexibility of the goaltenders, and the mental game between the two coaches. I enjoy welcoming Sam Rosen, Doc Emrick, and Pierre McGuire into my home nights and weekends to tell me what’s happening. I enjoy listening to Mike Milbury and Jeremey Roenick go at at the intermission. I love getting the guys together to hangout and watch 24/7 and then the Winter Classic. And you and the greedy owners you represent are threatening to take it away from me. The owners say they need more money, after they already forced the players into concessions last time there was a lockout. They say there is not enough money to go around. So wouldn’t the logical thing be to either A) institute a revenue sharing service B) cut a few teams from the league C) Both? There is no need for a team in Arizona, or Dallas, or three teams in the New York area. You cut a few teams and suddenly, the level of play goes up AND there is more money to go around. At the very least you could move a team or two to Canada where they will surely have support. I realize contracting teams might not be an option now, but at the very least figure out a way to share the money around the league. However, the most serious error you and the numbskull owners are making is that you just assume the fans are sticking around. You think that because the attendance and television rating are growing, that hockey will survive another lockout. This isn’t football Gary. Or baseball, or even basketball. Hockey is a great sport, but it not the most popular. I wish it were, I try and talk it up around my friends but the frustrating truth is that for whatever reason hockey isn’t America’s favorite sport. It’s moving in the right direction and might even be equal to basketball soon. But a lockout will not help. Football didn’t become king because it had labor strife after the 1958 Championship game. Baseball didn’t recover from the ’94 strike by having another one in 2000. Basketball was able to at least salvage 2/3 of a season this year. Hockey CANNOT afford another lockout. It can probably survive a shortened season of 66 games, but not less. The Winter Classic, and by association 24/7, are fast becoming must-see sports entertainment. You really want to cancel those? Because to me having over 100,000 people in the Big House screaming for hockey is going to look very cool on TV and might get some casual fan attention. Now I realize this isn’t all your fault. The players have to make some changes to their approach too, and be willing to give up some cash. And I actually agree with you on your point that the NBA and NFL recently got labor deals done for 10 years, which would be great for the NHL as well. But the bottom line is this: The owners are holding everything up. I come to Madison Square Garden to watch Lundqvist sprawl and Gaborik snipe. Not to watch Dolan balance his check book. Your in charge of the owners, get them in the mindset that hockey must be played. And if you can’t do that, well then step down and get out.
Frustrated Hockey Fans
About the Author
Written by Eric O'Connell
Eric O'Connell is Junior at St. John's University in Queens, New York but hails from Connecticut. He has been a life long fan of the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Rangers. Other interests include hanging out with friends, listening to music, having a good time, and Coffee Oreo Ice Cream. Follow on Twitter @EOCONN36 (opinions are mine and not Pro Sports Blogging)