The latest National Hockey League lockout — the third under the watch of commissioner Gary Bettman — is what is no good about pro sports.
How can a league that has more than its share of shaky franchises and fragile fan bases actually be a part of yet-another lockout?
To me, the lockout is all about the agenda of a little man and his big ego and about having no regard for the fans who support the NHL.
Bettman, I believe, may be playing with fire this time.
These are only two examples from where I live but I asked my 71-year old neighbour — who lives and breathes the Toronto Maple Leafs — what he thought about the lockout. I expected him to say “I hope they get this settled soon” but instead he said “I don’t even care any more.”
It was a similar situation the other night when my wife and I dropped into the Service Grill Restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie to check out the surroundings for the Hockey North Show that I will be hosting there beginning on Tuesday, September 25 on ESPN 1400 Radio. I got to talking with one of the regulars about the NHL labour dispute and one of his remarks was very telling: “Who cares? I’ll just start watching the (Soo) Thunderbirds instead.”
Really, the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League just might benefit from the current NHL lockout.
I recall after the last NHL lockout — the one that wiped out an entire season — talking with Abitibi Eskimos president Scott Marshall and him telling me it was the best year ever for attendance at Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls.
To me, the NHL lockout isn’t about who is wrong or who is right. Rather, it just boggles my mind that a league that is declining in popularity in some area has once again taken a labour dispute this far.
To hell with the NHL.
To me, “real hockey” is played in the towns of North Bay, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Blind River, Elliot Lake, Iroquois Falls and Kirkland Lake.