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Making Their Voices Heard, Hockey Fans Unite

I'll admit it. When this whole lockout mess is over, I'll be back into the NHL fold. I'll go to the first game and as many as I can thereafter. I will love my team just as much as I did in the heat of the playoff race last season. But there are a few things I won't do. I won't buy any jerseys this season from Altitude Authentics. I won't get a beer and nachos at the game. I won't park at the Pepsi Center. I won't use Tickethorse, choosing to go through re-sellers like Craigslist and Stub Hub instead. I can't give up the NHL game or my team. But I can do my part in making sure as little of my money as possible gets into the pockets of Stan & Son, Ltd.

This same thought—hitting the owners where it really hurts—has been on the minds of many hockey fans, stretching back into early in the 2011-2012 season. Recently, though, its intensity has been cranked up a bit. There are numerous cries around the internet for fans to boycott products and services that are either a part of an NHL owner's portfolio or sponsors of an NHL organization while this lockout mess unfolds.

There are a plethora of petitions floating around that you can sign, declaring your intent to boycott those avenues that will bring the owners profits. Here is one by the Twitter phenom @HockeyyInsiderr who promises to deliver the petition personally to Gary Bettman. Janne Makkonen of Finland started another one. It's at just over 25,000 signatures. This one was allegedly sponsored by, but that's not an actual website. There is a Twitter account of the same name (@noNHLStrike), so perhaps they're one in the same. Then there are dozens of others, most of which haven't broken the 50 signature mark.

The best-devised collective action, though, has to be from The website is very simple. It has a letter to the NHL owners stating very clearly what the creators of the site propose:

After the last two lockouts you realized that we will return to hockey regardless of the outcome, and you probably assume that we will do the same this time around.

Regardless, we have leverage of our own. Aside from being NHL owners, you are an elite group of men and women that touch every facet of business – restaurants, beer companies, pharmacies, hotels, media conglomerates, energy firms. etc. As devoted fans we will not make an empty threat to walk away from your NHL teams we love so much. However, we can and will, boycott the many other products and services that comprise your wealth.

...If the CBA negotiations are not resolved by September 15th, the boycott will begin. For every fan that has signed the petition page on this website, know that you just lost a customer.

It spells out the four things you, as a fan, can do to help. It provides a comprehensive list of the many companies that have ties to NHL owners. And it spells out the personal holdings and affiliated companies of each owner, one by one. (Did you know Stan owns a winery in Napa? Me neither.)

There really isn't much we can do. We're just the peons who make it possible for multi-millionaires and billionaires to live the lives they've come to enjoy. We're just the little guys without whom there wouldn't be an audience for the game. We're just the fans. We have no say in the negotiations. There aren't over 280 of us there to represent our point of view. Neither side of this battle puts us above their own interests.

So the only avenue we have is through our collective voice. Expressing our feelings online. Refusing to wear NHL gear. Choosing not to buy a damn thing that will line their pockets with more cash. And letting the players know what you think. They're not innocent victims in all of this. Yes, the owners are the clear bad guy this time around, but as they say, it takes two to tango. Most of the Avalanche roster has a Twitter account, and it's a direct way to tell them you're not going to stand idly by.

In the same vein as speaking directly to the players, it's important that the companies you boycott, as well as the owners, know what you are doing and why. Even if the actual dollar amount does not add up to much, being vocal about your choices will attract attention. By emailing the biggest dog you can for each company—including KSE—and saying, "I'm not buying this until this CBA business is settled," you can be heard. We don't have much power here, but we can exert what little we do have in noticeable ways.