A letter from an average fan to the NHL

CHICAGO - MAY 28: National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference at the United Center on May 28, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


Dear NHL,

Well, here we go again. Not satisfied with a mere two lockouts on Gary Bettman's resume, all signs are pointing to the illustrious threepeat. I totally understand. Why settle for mediocrity? No need to stop at killing one-and-a-half seasons when there's an opportunity there to go for lockout #3. Seize the day, league; this might be your big chance to improve your status as the 6th most popular sport in the US! Think big.

Honestly, I'm not one of those people who complains about the salaries of the players (average of $2.4 million per) or the executives ($7.5 million for Mr Bettman). Seriously, if the money is there for you, kudos for you. Nor am I one to complain about the ridiculously high ticket prices (average of about $50 per ticket). If the prices are too high - and they are - I am content to just stay at home, like 120,854 potential in-person Colorado Avalanche fans did last year. Since I am watching on TV, I certainly would appreciate it if you could somehow convince Pierre McGuire to stop his constant name dropping during broadcasts and maybe talk to Doc Emerick about the weird backwards talking thing, but those are relatively minor issues. My remote has a mute button.

Still, I have to scratch my head a little bit. You locked out the players fans for 48 games in '94-'95 in order to get a salary cap. It didn't work, so you locked out the players again in '03-04 to get that much coveted "cost certainty". That TOTALLY worked, even though you wiped out an entire season to do it. You got your salary cap - $39 million in the first season. Yay for you guys! And now the cap - tied to revenues - has risen to $70 million probably because league is raking in something more than $3 billion per year. I'm not wise to big money problems, but it sure sounds like things are going fairly well for you.

I know nothing. Come to find out, you are seriously struggling. With a meager $2 billion package just for TV rights, I can understand how times are tough. That $200 million per year is just an incremental increase to the $65 million per year TV rights paid you after the last lockout. That's no way to live. Now, you want to lockout the players AGAIN to get...er...what exactly? Gary says: "Our initial proposal relates to the fact that we need to be paying out less in player costs." Yeah, that makes sense, as your financially strapped teams just shelled out $410 million to FOUR players (Sydney Crosby, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, Shea Weber) over a 3 week period. Clearly, the owners are down to their last pennies and it is all the players' fault.

So, unwilling to simply operate under the oppressive terms of the expiring CBA while working out a deal like grownups, you are going to lockout the players fans. Again. Which really means you care so little for the NHL fans that you are prepared to use them as leverage. Again. Sorry, everyone, but we're only making gobs and gobs of money and this is simply unacceptable so we are going to quit until we can make even more gobs of money.

Well, screw you, NHL. You aren't locking me out this time. No no, I am locking you out. I am done with you. Go away and quibble about how to split up BILLIONS of dollars. I care not. We're not lovers any longer. I tried. I worked hard in this relationship. I forgave you for the lockouts. Twice. I ignored the silly shootout thing and the trapezoid and a host of other minor transgressions. But I just don't love you anymore. You have been relegated to, at best, friends-with-benefits status. If I'm bored on a Saturday night and my other hot new lovers like football or soccer are busy, I might give you a call for a little fun. Then again, I might not - sometimes, the baggage just isn't worth the effort.

And just to be clear, this isn't contingent on you actually following through with the lockout threat. The very fact that you would even consider locking out the players fans again just proves to me that you only care about yourself. I can't love a league that is this selfish.

So please, return your key and don't forget to grab your "I Heart the Penguins" pillow on the way out; I can't believe I allowed you to keep that thing around for so long. In turn, I will cancel my Center Ice subscription and throw out all my Carrie Underwood CDs. We'll have to share custody of our NHL Guardian action figures. Actually, you can have them.

Best of luck to you, NHL. Not that you'll need it with such savvy businessmen lording over your realm. LOL. I'm certainly not going anywhere, so if you ever do get tired of being an absolute douche bag to the people who care about you, you'll know where to crawl back to. Until then...get lost. I'm only interested in "professional" sports leagues.

Yours no longer,

Average hockey fan.

PS Don't even think about posting those pictures on Facebook.

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