Once again, hockey fans have been thrown to the wayside, and CBA agreements appear to be taking too long to develop. Hockey fans remember the infamous lockout of 2004-2005, and the pain that came with it. One of the biggest images of that year was the short clip of the lights being shut off in a hockey arena on ESPN, signifying that the league wasn't happening that year. Most of the leagues best took their talents to other leagues around the world, as will happen if we have another lockout.
But lets slow down for a second. After all, this could all be sorted out and we could have our season, right? I mean, it's not like its officially a lockout just yet. The ownership and players union could hammer something out. After all, even the NBA and NFL both fixed their situations in the 11th hour. So why is this different? Why are fans expecting the worst? Well, as I said earlier, we've already seen that side of CBA negotiations, not even 10 years ago, and the ownership side of the debate seems hellbent on locking these players out and crushing the Union.
Even after a year where the league posted record profits of $3.3 billion, they want even more money and intend on taking it from players. The players, however, want to keep the status quo that they agreed upon in 2005. Even then, the players met almost all the owner's demands, such as introducing a hard cap for the first time in the sport's history. Now, the owners want to decrease how much they pay players, and have players be restricted free agents until they reach 30 years of age, increasing it from 26. It seems like ownership purposely trying to have insane demands so they have an excuse to lock out the players. This isn't fair to athletes, because they sign contracts to play, but now it seems almost commonplay that they will be facing work stoppages every few years. So where does that leave us?
Ah yes, the fan. The innocent bystander in all of this that it all affects the most. You see, hockey fans are all disgusted by what is happening, but most do not know what to do. They can't threaten the teams with lack of attendance, because there's nothing to attend. Sure, we can not buy merchandise, but really how long will that last?
Instead, I propose something that another great writer, Daniel Friedman, had brought up- with the advancements in social media, us fans are much more seen by the leagues and teams we follow. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways for us to express ourselves both positively and negatively, so why don't we raise hell? We can organize and protest in front of the HQ in Manhattan, in front of arenas all over as well. These organizations can see what our plans and wants are because they pop up right on their screens, whether they want to see them or not.
So I ask you fans- when are we going to say enough is enough? When will we stand up for what is right for our favorite players and for us? If you're reading this, go to your fellow fans, and talk about what steps you can take to be seen by the NHL and the owners. I know us Islander fans already have a great group on Facebook, and I propose we start looking into protesting somewhere to get our point across. Even if you're a Ranger fan, we're all hockey fans, and we need to work together to get this done! Let's work together today for hockey tomorrow!