NHL Lockout: Fans Are the True Losers of Gary Bettman's Third Lockout

Steven SlivkaCorrespondent IIIJanuary 7, 2013

Gary Bettman has become public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of NHL fans.
Gary Bettman has become public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of NHL fans.Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in nearly seven months, the NHL is finally back in action.

After NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHLPA reached a deal to end the league's second lockout since 2005, fans are still left to wonder why this sort of thing happened in the first place.

It's been 210 days since the Los Angeles Kings hoisted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, and the anticipation for the 2012-13 NHL season was anxiously awaited like...well, like the city of L.A. waiting for its first Stanley Cup.

Yet here we are, a week into the calendar year and a single NHL game has yet to be played. That wasn't supposed to happen.

Despite the big, fancy words used by lawyers to ease the impatience of NHL fans across the world, the fact of the matter is that we as fans don't care.

Just put hockey back on the ice. We don't care how you do it; just do it.

As fans, these lockouts have become routine, as if we are supposed to suffer every couple of years or so because the owners and players fail to agree on how many millions of dollars they will all make.

The fans, on the other hand, are the ones looking on from the outside, just wanting to watch a sport they've supported through the good times and the bad.

But how much can we take as fans? Just like every other hockey fan out there, I'm glad the NHL is back in action.

It's bad enough the teams have to stop playing for three months; now Bettman thinks it's acceptable to keep me and millions of other fans waiting for three extra months?

These big shots need to remember that without fans they don't have a product. This latest fiasco proves that professional sports are definitely no longer just games; they're business ventures that their extremely wealthy owners use as cash cows to fatten their pockets, while their most loyal customers suffer in the process.

This is Bettman's third lockout since he took over as commissioner almost 20 years ago. Needless to say, he needs to take the David Stern route and bid the NHL adieu.

Though he is not single-handedly responsible for the three lockouts, he has been the central character in all of them.

Instead of painting "Thank You, Fans" on each team's ice, Bettman needs to do everyone a bigger favor and resign. Maybe then we could finally have some peace.

They can have their money and their greed, just give us our hockey; and do it without leaving us fans in the dark.