Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Game Over

Gary Bettman began his press conference by apologizing to the fans. Bob Goodenow didn't apologize until he was prompted to do so. They will both be sorry soon.

I am the kind of fan that the NHL is counting on coming back. Saturday night is a religious experience for me, I haven't missed a Leafs game in years. I haven't missed a playoff game in years, I've paid hundreds of dollars for scalpers tickets, I've lived and breathed hockey for most of my life. And I will never watch another NHL game.

The fans have moved on. We've found other things to focus on, other things to do on Saturday nights, other people to love, other teams to follow. TSN's ratings haven't plummeted, neither have Sportsnet's. Hockey has been gone for five months and the sky has not fallen, the sun's still rising and Canada is still functioning. Hockey has lost it's place in our hearts.

Bob Goodenow claimed the players were sorry they could not entertain the fans this year. What a crock of shit. Gary Bettman said they were doing this for the good of the fans. What a fucking liar.

Did they learn nothing from baseball's strike? It took a decade and juiced-up players breaking records to win back the fans. And there is no end in sight here. The players have seen the best deal they will ever see -- and they turned it down. Next year the pie will be much smaller and the players will be lucky to come away with a $35 million salary cap.

I wouldn't bet on us getting hockey back next year either. Both sides took their last offer off the table in the aftermath of the season being cancelled, so we're back to square one. The owners win by simply dragging this out indefinitely and the players have proven they can't get the WHA off the ground. If the league does call an impasse and use replacement players then they are putting all their chips in and the strike will be over quickly. Either fans come see the replacement players and the PA has to cave, or they don't and the league has to cave.

Either way, one fact has become apparent: these people are not worthy of our admiration, they are not worthy of our money and they are not worthy of our time. These people are not worthy of their fans, and we've finally realized it.

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