Fans Caught In Middle - Again

September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

Once again, millionaires are fighting with billionaires and the ones who have done nothing wrong and everything right, are caught in the middle. NHL fans have paid for their tickets, (or a portion of them) and are ready to watch hockey. But instead of settling differences during the summer like reasonable people, the NHL and NHLPA have wasted the time available to them and now choose to play a dangerous game of who will blink first, with the season, or at least a portion of it, hanging in the balance.

It does not take a genius to figure out what needs to happen. The current portion of player revenue of 57% needs to be trimmed. The NHL offered 43% as a starting point. Is there any doubt that the two will eventually end up at 50%? But instead of seeing the obvious and agreeing to something close to the inevitable, both sides will pout, delay, defer, stall, and claim they are the victim, before they eventually capitulate.

The owners are the ones who have brought about the lockout. The players, while they have offered very little to bridge the gap needed to solve this crisis, have at least offered to continue to play during the negotiations. But Gary Bettman, who co-authored the book "Contract Negotiations for Dummies", and who only knows one road leading to a compromise, (lockout), has forced the work stoppage in an attempt to strong arm the players.

Of course Bettman represents the billionaire owners, who have no one but themselves to blame for the mess. Aren't they the ones who show zero self control in the way they keep offering and agreeing to ridiculous contract amounts?

These same owners are the ones who take the fans and their dollars, for granted.

And yes, no matter what is being said, fans are being taken for granted.

It is assumed that most fans will do nothing during this battle between the greedy and will come back even more willing to spend money when the game finally does return. But as powerless as most fans might feel during this process, the reality is that fans hold all the power.

For instance what would happen if fans, thousands of them, or tens of thousands of them, started contacting the owners with their opinions? What if they started demanding refunds?

At least one fan has contacted the Hurricanes front office.

Here is a copy of a recent email I received from a long time Canes Country reader.

Bob,


Good afternoon. I'm Chad. Longtime reader, first time caller (emailer). Canes Country is one of my favorite blogs. I check it regularly, and I'm sure many Caniacs do likewise. I'm writing to you regarding the possible and increasingly probable NHL lockout.

The memory of the 2004-05 lockout is still fresh in my mind. I remember how powerless I felt as we lost an entire season and could seemingly do nothing but wait. Lately, however, I've been thinking if there isn't something we can do this time around. I was wondering if it would be feasible to organize a grassroots letter-writing or phone-calling movement, akin to what happened with the SOPA/PIPA protests. Instead of calling our Congressmen, we fans would write or call the owner of our favorite team and tell them that we want them to play under the current CBA while they negotiate a new one. I'm not so naive as to think the owners or Bettman would seriously consider this request. However, if we fans did this, it would show that we have a voice and we won't take this anymore, which would make a certain point.

The point would be two-fold. First, if enough fans did it, the sheer volume should get someone's attention, even if the owners themselves turn a blind eye at first. Second, perhaps banking on the owners' indifference, the movement would reveal that NHL owners really don't care about their fans as much as they would like us to think they do. In other words, the point is to turn the heat up on the owners to motivate them to resolve the issue as quickly as possible because they will be cast as villains along with Bettman. (I don't necessarily think of PK as a villain in all this, but I think if we are going to ask other fans to do this to their owners, we should be prepared to do the same.) Of course, in order for this to happen, we need media to publicize this event and spread the word. Specifically, like with the SOPA/PIPA protests, social media and the Internet would have to play a big part in getting the word out.

To that end, I wanted to ask if you or another Canes Country blogger would consider doing a blog post about this movement by calling on your readership to voice their grievances to the Canes' front office. For my part, I've already sent a letter to PK (and received acknowledgment of receipt of the letter). I've attached a redacted version if you would like to look it over and suggest edits. I would have no problem turning that into a form letter for other Caniacs to use. The phone calling would ideally be coordinated to happen on a certain day (say, Sept. 15th) to make sure that the phones are ringing off the hook at NHL offices around the country.

I'm emailing other bloggers and even some journalists as well. If this is something that you and the other Canes Country bloggers would like to get onboard with, I would appreciate you reaching out to any contacts, like through SB Nation, that you would also like to help, as long you are comfortable doing so. Finally, I know that individually we fans don't amount to much. And even united, we still might not have a very big effect. Still, I think doing something is better than doing nothing. And really, we have nothing to lose that we're not already losing.

I apologize for the long email. Thanks for taking the time to read and consider it. Good luck!

- Chad

I was out of town much of last week and did not have a chance to post this letter before now. But Chad did not stop there. He called the Canes front office and eventually got to speak with Jim Rutherford. Imagine if thousands of Caniacs did the same?

The following is another letter sent most recently from the same reader.


There have been a few new developments since I wrote that first email to you. I called the Canes' front office yesterday instead of today, since the Canes' website said that the office is closed on weekends.

I actually got a very nice response when I called. I was eventually directed to the assistant for Jim Rutherford, and after speaking to her briefly, I left a message and my number. Shortly after that, Mr. Rutherford himself gave me a call back. He essentially explained the owners' view to me and assured me that they did not take their fans for granted. While the gesture was pleasantly unexpected and very touching, I didn't hear anything that I hadn't already read (the current system doesn't work, players were delaying the negotiations, etc.). Still, it was nice to be acknowledged.


I don't know if you want to work that into the blog somehow. I made a point of being polite, even as I was airing my grievances. I think as long as fans (despite all the understandable frustration and anger) are civil in their dealings with management, the management will at least listen.

Chad


So, what do you think? Should fans unite and will they be able to push things along with a concerted effort?


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