How the 2012 lockout affects the way I interact with hockey

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve written anything on this blog. In fact, the last post I wrote, on September 20th, was a petition vowing that if any games were cancelled that I wouldn’t watch any hockey for the rest of the season. Since that time I’ve had just about no desire to contemplate our situation as hockey fans, and no interest in covering the ongoing non-event that is this lockout.

The reaction to that petition was predictable and fair. Most seemed to appreciate the sentiment–that only by withholding our dollars can we actually communicate with owners and/or players–but admitted that they would eat hockey up if and when it returned. I’m missing hockey something fierce; I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to watch the Sens play again. But I thought it only right to follow up on whether or not my position has changed over the last month plus…

Nope. The owners have cynically positioned the fans, leveraging our passion for the sport in a fight to undermine player rights. They’ve irreparably set the sport back at least a year or two after what had been years of record growth and some of the best hockey in years. My sense is still one of deep resentment. If any other company or brand, selling me any other product, so fragrantly took me for granted in this way I would never go back to them.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m never going to watch hockey again. And I have to acknowledge that Melnyk doesn’t seem to be one of the hardliners among the ownership cadre driving this thing. But I simply can’t go back to the way things were and pretend that this level of greed is a normal and cyclical thing in the overall scheme of CBA negotiations.

So what were my plans for 2012-2013? Well, after a surprisingly competitive season last year, I planned to consume Ottawa Senators hockey to about the same degree as any fan who bothers to write about hockey on his own blog. Which is to say that I was going to watch every game at least on TV, attend between a half-dozen and dozen home games, go to as many playoff games as I can, buy some merch, and drink a shit-ton of $11 beers at Scotiabank Place. I don’t spend like a madman when it comes to hockey. But I’m part of the gristle that makes hockey profitable in this city. If I was a die-hard with season tickets and a version of every jersey, then peeling back a little doesn’t make that much difference; I’d still be spending like mad. Instead, I’m the kind of consumer who had built hockey into my routine. What any lockout demonstrates to the consumer like me is that I don’t need hockey in my life that badly.

When there are this many companies willing to bend over backward for my entertainment buck I can’t go back to hockey spending. I won’t be going to any home games if and when hockey is back, not even playoff games. I won’t buy any merch, like jerseys or t-shirts. (Not even that Ottawa Senators Dream Capture Kit.) I won’t spend any money on arena food or beer.

So, why would I punish our small market team? Well, I’m on record (here and here) thinking that Melnyk has a habit of stretching the truth when it comes to describing the challenges of breaking even. And I can’t ignore that Daniel Alfredsson is re-considering his plans to play another year, and that we’re losing a year of Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza in their prime. Hockey, and Ottawa Senators hockey specifically, is damaged because of this lockout. If we never break out of this habit of flocking back to hockey because we’ve missed it so badly, then we’ll only have ourselves to blame when all of this happens again in 6-7 years.

10 thoughts on “How the 2012 lockout affects the way I interact with hockey

  1. This lockout has certainly left a bad taste in the mouths of the working class fan. As stated there are plenty others who would gladly bend over backwards to gain our entertainment buck; and its a real shame to think that the filthy rich will take the common joe for granted, over what really is a pitiful greed party. Its sickening. Glad to see a post though!

  2. Pingback: Senators News: November 9th | eyeonthesens

  3. Yeah, I’m basically BLAH-ZAY right now. With Gene saying he’ll never sell the team, that’s basically telling us:

    “Hey Sens fan…you don’t need to come to any games. No no, don’t buy that new sweater because the team will be here forever. Hey, you, the lifer. Cancel those seasons. You aren’t NEEDED. I’m The Huge Euge and I’ll just keep footing the bill.”

    So if Melnyk is just going to keep absorbing losses and if my money isn’t making a difference…then why make an effort, especially when the team isn’t that hot right now anyway?
    It’s really weird but I was a lot more of a fan when Bryden was around we needed to sell more season tickets or OH EMM GEE CLEVELAND SENATORS!111!!!!! It actually felt like management gave a shit if we went or not and it felt GOOD to be making a difference.

    Now it’s like…eh. I’ve been spending less and less. Don’t get me wrong I still love the team but I’d freaking LUST THEM if they were fighting for first overall and Fly 65 was making Carey Price look like that nice middle-aged lady with glasses at Shopper’s Drug Mart Rideau Centre that goes “Do you have an Optimum Card?” with that sexy voice that makes you wonder about chocoalte pudding and a nice bath…awwww yeah.

    Hopefully this lockout means we, the fans, will be NEEDED.

  4. I find that my desire to blog about hockey has been just about wiped out. I have plenty of story ideas (Jared Cowen is more important than Erik Karlsson this year, changing jerseys has ruined the team’s fortunes…) but every time I sit down to write one, I think, “What’s the point?”

    I mean, really, who cares what Jared Cowen means for next season when we have no idea when next season is? I may as well blog about what I would do if I won the lottery.

    The whole situation is supremely frustrating. We, as fans, constantly say “It’s a business” when a player signs for more money or a team makes a cost-cutting move or whatever, but the truth is that it’s the game part that we enjoy. The business side isn’t something we can relate to when it takes the game away from us.

    Part of me knows I’ll come running back whenever the NHL starts up again, but part of me would be happier if this whole thing went nuclear. Just dissolve the NHL as a dysfunctional and irreparable labor situation and start a new league from scratch. Something where the animosity isn’t so inhibiting and the business aspect doesn’t overwhelm the game aspect every six fucking years. The NHL has no real approach to COLLECTIVE bargaining. They just ignore labor issues until they come up, and that disgusts me.

  5. Thanks for the post. It resonated.
    I’m a big Sens fan but living overseas I don’t put a lot to the bottom line of the club other than the odd jersey when I’m back home to Ottawa in the summer. That said for the past 10 years I’ve put a ton of time and energy into the team. Reading a bunch of blogs and PVRing most games and hoping nobody tells me the score of the game during the day. Email filters set during the playoffs so no peep gets through. My son knows about Sunday morning watching “dad’s Senators”. I can honestly say that I became a way bigger fan living overseas than I ever was back home. It was a daily connection to home.
    But ever since I heard Betteman say that the fans would come back, all I could think was “are you kidding me?”. Like you I’ve been reevaluating the role the NHL plays in my life and thinking that I’ve got better things to do if these guys take us THAT for granted. I don’t know if I’ll just jump back in when it comes back – I like the idea of keeping Sunday morning sens hockey to help my son understand his Canadian roots while living in the tropics. But part of me thinks that the next time I’m home for Christmas I won’t get to 6 games and the next time the sens are in the cup finals I’ll greet it with a “that’s nice” rather than hours of agonizing over flights and praying they take it to 6 so I can get to the game. And thats too bad.

  6. At first I was hesitant to sign the petition, but after getting completely p-o’d at the way these owners are operating, I decided I wasn’t going to watch any hockey this year; might as well commit to it. It’s too bad, because I’ve been gradually getting more and more fanatical about the NHL. 2 years ago I bought full sports TV packages, last year I had GameCentre and this year I was getting Centre Ice. Now, I’m cancelling my satellite after the Grey Cup (who knew the NHL would manage to look amateurish and unstable, in comparison).

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