(HockeyStL) – While driving to work I heard the following on the radio: “coming up, a commissioner of a major sports league will step down in 2014. Details when we come back.”
I was hoping to hear that Gary Bettman was planning to step down, but instead it was news regarding David Stern and the NBA. I was disappointed.
DISCLAIMER: This isn’t intended to be a dig at the NHL, but written in agonizing frustration. There are no facts listed in this story. No facts need to be given to show a fan’s disappointment. There are no charts or legal mumbo-jumbo to confuse you as to why the owners and players aren’t agreeing. The only mumbo-jumbo given is in the form of a rant.
Two lockouts within ten years of each other aren’t good for anybody, especially the commissioner. But that is what Bettman has allowed this league to reach in arguably the worst stretch of labor peace in the history of sports.
Bettman clearly isn’t a great businessman. Who allows their league to be in this position when the sport is at its peak since the last lockout and the two biggest markets have arguably the two best teams, New York and Los Angeles? The Rangers are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and would have a legitimate chance at the Stanley Cup this year -- if hockey ever resumes -- while the Kings are defending the Cup.
Those two teams are from the two largest markets where the fan base is growing due to their team’s success – a lockout is the last thing you would want if you are a player or owner of those teams.
Other teams, such as the St. Louis Blues, are on the up-and-up after years of performing horribly. The Blues are just starting to get their fan base back, but the lockout is making it an overwhelming lose-lose situation for the league and its players.
The commissioner isn’t the only one to blame. The NHLPA hired Donald Fehr, who was part of the MLB strike in 1994 which resulted in no baseball. Fans can understand that the players want a “fair deal,” whatever that might be. Everyone involved is missing a clear point: we all lose during lockouts.
The players will not get back the money they are losing during the lockout and the owners are losing their team’s fan base which will result in lower attendance and less money made.
The fans are annoyed. They were put through this same junk in 2004 and they are being subjected to it again -- eight years later.
Hockey enthusiasts should give up on this league and take their passion for the sport where soccer fans take their passion – to the European leagues.
So is the NHL the next league to switch commissioners? I don’t know. Fans can only hope so.
You can follow Scott Bierman on Twitter @Scott_Bierman