A modest proposal for angry hockey fans

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
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The mood is sour in the town today. There’s a deal in place and there’ll be NHL hockey within days. So why so sad? Why is everyone I talked to so peeved-off?

‘Cos they feel like they’ve been had. And they’re right. This was a lockout that never needed to happen. So fans are right to be in a rage. But they should know where to direct their ire.

This work stoppage was caused by one man – Gary Bettman – though to be fair to the Count he did it with the full cooperation of the 30 NHL owners who have yet again proven themselves to be a mighty short-sighted bunch.

It was NOT the players fault. From the get-go Donald Fehr and the NHLPA said they’d be willing to play while negotiations went on. But Bettman refused. The same Bettman who didn’t start negotiating ’til minutes before the season started and then effectively radicalized the players by throwing a contemptuous offer their way – for the players share of NHL revenue to drop from 57-percent  to 43-percent.

Any how, who cares about the details now. The point is how do we express the anger we feel with the owners for forcing us to miss three months of hockey? Many, including my pal Bruce Dinsmore, have suggested boycotting the first game back. Now I think that’s an excellent idea – wouldn’t it be wonderful to see a bunch of empty arenas? That’d be a clear, downright poetic expression of fan rage. But what if the folks with tickets refuse to play ball?

Here in Montreal, the vast majority of the seats are filled by season-ticket-holders, many of them corporate types, and you just know the suits are not going to take part in any protest. Note to world – the suits never lead the revolution. They’re the ones shooting at us on the barricades!

How about this? For the first few games – pick a number – you go to the games, if you must, but you don’t spend a penny on the concession stands. That hits the owners where it hurts – in the wallet – and we’re talking millions of bucks here. Have a good dinner before you go and gulp down a couple of decent European beers at the drinking establishment of your choice, and then take a pass on the overpriced hot dogs and criminally expensive down-market suds served at NHL arenas.

In the coming days, the owners are going to tell us how sorry they were about the stoppage, how they love the teams’ fans, but don’t count on anything but lofty talk. Because if they really cared about the fans, they wouldn’t have stopped hockey in the first place, and if they cared about us right now, the first thing they’d do is slash ticket prices for this season and prices for food and drink at their arenas. But that ain’t gonna happen.

So what do you think? A beer-and-hot-dog protest! Seriously they’ll lose some real dough and maybe just maybe they’ll think twice next time before showing contempt for the fans.

Oh – but I still want the big downtown party for the first game back. We still try to convince as many as possible to not go to the arenas, we congregate at hockey-friendly bars around the city with our anti-Bettman placards in tow, and bring some coin back to a few of the small businesses that’ve been hit so hard by this lockout.

Drop the puck – and start the fan revolt now!

– Brendan


  1. Yats says:

    Boycott beer and hot dogs for the first few games? Are you kidding? I’ve already been doing that since the Habs moved out of the old forum, which was the last time beer and hot dogs were reasonably priced. The only concession stand I visit at Centre Bell is Tim Horton’s which doesn’t have inflated prices.

    No, my boycott is going to go a lot deeper than that: I’m boycotting the whole season. No TV, no games, nadda. Don’t get me wrong – I love hockey, I play twice a week, and I follow my son’s minor hockey team. I’ll just boycott the NHL for this year (unless of course the Habs get hot in the playoffs!!)

  2. topshelfbk says:

    Obviously our kids’ hockey is way more fun than the NHL. That’s a given.

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