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A league in denial

Commissioner Bettman prepares to speak to the media following the latest talks
Commissioner Bettman prepares to speak to the media following the latest talks
Ian Gavan, Getty

Well, color me completely shocked (sarcastic voice). A day after the NHL presented their Totally Reasonable And Awesome CBA Offer™, the players made three counter-proposals to the league...all of which we're summarily rejected. After telling us that there was still a chance at a full season and all the players needed to do was simply accept the league's Totally Reasonable And Awesome CBA Offer™, Gary Bettman is "concerned".

Golly gee willickers, I can't believe I didn't see that coming. I mean, surely the league's offer was as completely above board and didn't actually include a whopping 12.5% pay cut, right? With the league making money hand over fist, why wouldn't the players want to give money away? I am a little curious as to why the NHL's first reasonable offer couldn't have come sometime sooner than FUCKING OCTOBER, but I suppose I am just a naive fool.

Clearly, the NHL is more interested in not being the bad guy than actually getting this lockout solved. They hired a PR firm to help them spin the lockout - their lockout - into fan-friendly garbage. They submitted a bullshit proposal and then let it be known that it would be up to the players to act quickly to save the seasons for the fans. The beloved fans. The NHL wants you to think they are a bunch of swell guys, doing the best to right the inequalities some nimrods shoved on them during the last lockout,. Of course, it's the same nimrods that are running things now, but that's a minor detail.

There's a small problem with Operation Save Face though. Two, actually.

One, nobody fucking cares. Someone seriously needs to sit down the suits running the NHL and remind them that they are, in fact, running the NHL. This is not the NFL; there is no public outcry because replacement refs are causing TEAMS TO LOSE GAMES. Sure, there are Canadians and some diehards in the US. But, for the most part, sports fans have shrugged off this stoppage in an oh-look-that-silly-league-is-doing-ANOTHER-lockout-LOL sort of way. Has anyone noticed the phone lines burning up on the sports radio switchboards to talk about the lockout? Or large chunks of the sports' page devoted to the travesty? As I've claimed all along, the biggest hurdle facing the NHL when they lock out the players (and fans) isn't anger. It's apathy. And they've got it. Most people couldn't care less if the NHL ever returns, and that list grows ever day that this fiasco is extended.

Two, the fans who do care aren't stupid. The PR sessions and the carefully crafted offers are useless, because hockey fans are smart enough to see the real story. The NHL wiped out a complete season to get their financial system in place, and they are making a boatload of fucking money today because of it. If the Minnesota Wild are able to commit $200 million dollars to two players in a capped system, how much do you think Suter and Parise would have earned in an uncapped market? $300 million? $400 million? The NHL is seeing record highs for revenues and has a system in place to limit salaries. That equals money, and gobs of it. No one believes that this system - their system - is unfair to the owners. No one believes that this lockout is the fault of the players or the current economic system or global warming or whatever ridiculous excuse the PR machine wants to throw out next. We are going to lose another season, and there is ONE reason for that - the greedy owners. They care more about money than they do about the integrity of the game.

Spin all you want, fellas, but you are wasting your time, your money...and our hockey season.