The NHL and the Players' Association just don't get it.
Their league, and every professional sport for that matter, would be nothing without its devoted fanbase. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby spoke with Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday.
Here's what he had to say regarding the NHL's loyalty to its fans, and whether the owners or players should take advantage of it:
“I hope not. I hope that nobody who’s making any decision or taking any stance will take our fans for granted. But there is a business side, and we all know that. We just want something that’s fair, and hopefully people can understand that.”
That's what it's all about. Of course it's a business decision. Anyone who disagrees with that notion is being short-sighted. As much as the league needs the fans, they also have to make money.
But how much is too much? The NHL is unique in this way. No other league has these problems, at least not as frequently as they do. This is the fourth work stoppage since 1992. Hockey wasn't even played in 2004.
At this point, it just looks petty. Crosby can't solve the issue himself, but at least he gets it.
Fans do understand to a point, but the NHL should consider themselves lucky for that. No other legion of fans has had to deal with things like this, yet the sport seems to have grown in popularity over recent years.
Most organizations would consider themselves lucky, instead of finding a way to jeopardize all of that progress.
The NHL is a business, obviously, but the league, and players, must also appreciate the fans sitting in its stands for every game. Without them, the players would be playing to an empty arena; the owners would have no one to sell anything too.
The money involved in this current lockout has clouded what sports are really about. It's no longer about the joy of the game for professional hockey; it's about who is getting what percentage of the cut.
Crosby understands that, but he also sees the other, and more important, side of the coin.
Fans need hockey, but hockey also needs its fans.