NHL Lockout: Labor Stoppage Should Push Avid Fans Away from Poorly Run Sport

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with the media at a press conference announcing the New York Islanders' move to Brooklyn in 2015 at the Barclays Center on October 24, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL never learns.

It's not like it hasn't been through a labor stoppage before. Cancelling regular-season games is old hat for this poorly run organization, and it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon.

Rather than sit around, pining for on-ice action, avid followers of professional hockey should push away from Gary Bettman, Bill Daly and the Players' Association. It's hard, but it's the best thing for the sport at this point.

Somehow, someway, everyone involved in this situation needs to realize that this is not OK. Players want to play, and owners want to make money, yet the two sides are too stubborn to compromise on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Hockey fans shouldn't put up with it. Call it a boycott, call it whatever you want, but the most passionate followers of the NHL must let themselves be heard in the clearest way possible. 

If the NHL does return, don't watch, don't buy jerseys, don't give the league the revenue it seeks and don't give the players the satisfaction of watching them perform. They haven't earned it, and they've shown no regard for their fanbase in the past few months.

The urge to make money from an owner's standpoint and the desire to be financially protected from a player's standpoint is understandable.

The NHL is a business, after all, but it's not just a business. It also serves as entertainment. Unlike money-making Fortune 500 companies, it has a distinct responsibility to its fans, but it hasn't honored that. 

Fans respect the players and the game that they play, but that must be a two-way relationship. Continuing to participate, from a fan's standpoint, isn't acceptable.

No one should pay attention to the NHL until they learn how to handle themselves in all aspects. Compromise isn't always an ideal scenario, but whether they like it or not, the NHL has other people to think about that aren't on their payroll.

It's easy, and right, to blame Bettman or NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, but the fans can do their part as well. 

Fans, at this point, have a responsibility. The NHL must see the consequences of its actions, and its hockey-crazed followers are the only ones who can make that happen.