The Winter Classic is axed…someone has to stop Bettman before it’s too late

Posted: November 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

This is just out of control. The NHL announced Friday that the Winter Classic has been cancelled.

One of the biggest marketing opportunities for the League in the U.S. has bit the dust. So why is that? Because Gary ‘I hate hockey’ Bettman wants to show everyone – and most paricularly the NHL Players Association – that there’s only one boss in hockey and yes that boss-man is Mr. Bettman.

Now even if you’re an arch right-wing type who likes the notion of crushing unions, you can’t be happy with this approach because Bettman is also in the process of decimating the league. Why scorch the season like this? Jonathon Gatehouse wrote in a thoughtful piece in Macleans this week that made the point that “what’s mystifying to outsiders is that the two sides don’t seem to be that far apart.”

Gatehouse suggests the gap between the two sides is maybe around $130 million, a tad less than 4-percent of the league’s $3.3 billion in revenue last year.

So this isn’t about money.

I think it’s about ego. In particular Bettman’s ego. He wants to win this schoolyard tussle.

And the cost? They’re probably going to destroy the NHL in the U.S. Sure it’ll survive in the classic markets like Boston, New York and Phillie, but there’s no reason to be optimistic about the league’s prospects in places like Phoenix, Florida, Nashville, and Dallas. I was in Los Angeles this summer and there was a real buzz about hockey, hot on the heels of the Kings’ Stanley Cup win. Now that’s all gone.

I don’t want to go into the details. I didn’t start this blog to talk about money and labour negotiations. But the one thing I know in my gut is that this is the owners’ fault, period. Lots of people have been going around saying how both sides are just as bad, the billionaire owners and the millionaire players, but that’s just not true.

Hey listen I agree the players are over-payed and they’re often missing the passion and team loyalty that made the game so great 20 years ago. But the players association said they were willing to play and to keep talking. The folks shutting this thing down are Bettman and his cronies.

When the players ask to talk, Bettman says there’s nothing to talk about. This is not negotiating. It’s a game of chicken and there’s only one guy who’s determined to prove he’s the bigger man, the guy who won’t blink.

Do I sound a little p.o.’d? Well I am. Quebec rocker Anik Jean tweeted me to say life without hockey is a little apocalypse and I couldn’t agree more. Here in Canada, we live for this damn game and the guy who took it away from us deserves to pay the price. What price? Let’s start by firing him as commissioner and find someone who cares about the future of the League.

Are there any moderate owners out there listening? Over to you Geoff Molson.

– Brendan

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