Dear NHL and NHLPA

Posted by on August 31, 2012

A lot of people have asked me “How do you feel about a possible NHL lockout?” or “What are you gonna do if there is no hockey!?”

Below is both my answer, and what I would tell both the NHL and the NHLPA if anyone actually cared about what I had to say.

Here goes:

Dear NHL and NHLPA,

Hi. You don’t know me. I’m not one of the people that matters much to you. I’m not a player. I’m not an executive. I’m not one of the people fighting over a record-breaking revenue of $3.3. billion.

I’m just a fan.

This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s because of me, and hundreds of thousands of other fans like me, that you enjoyed those record revenues.

You see, I spent money, money I didn’t really have, to go watch my team on a pretty awesome Stanley Cup Final run.

Other fans did the same. While their team may not have made it as far, they still came out and supported their favorite sport, their favorite team.

They watched in greater numbers, as the increase in television ratings showed.

But that doesn’t matter to millionaires fighting other millionaires over how to split up billions.

I’m not on either side.

I fully expect the players to try to get as much money as they can. They are the ones performing. They are the reason we go out to watch the games. They take on all the risk of injury. If someone is offering a “ridiculous amount of money,” it would only be ridiculous to not take it.

On the other hand, the bottom line is the NHL is a business. And like every business owner, the goal is to get a return on your investment and make as much of a profit as possible. A lot of fans forget that the only expense isn’t player contracts. There are building leases, worker’s salaries, etc.

Aside from the people who will be out of a job because of a lockout, the people who need that job to support their families, I don’t care about any of those issues. I don’t see a penny of that $3.3 billion. I contribute to it.

What I care about is hockey.

The current collective bargaining agreement ends on September 15th.

Gary Bettman has said that if there is not a new CBA in place by the 15th, the players will be locked out.

Here is the sad truth: the longer this goes on, the more I hope a lockout does occur.

I will save thousands of dollars. I am a small-business owner, and I struggle to pay my bills every month. By not being able go and support my team because of a lockout, I will have more money available for other things.

I will be able to attend more Red Bulls games, which are drastically cheaper to attend than NHL games anyway. They’re also, sadly, more fun to attend because they know that middle-aged men and women like to go to sporting events to yell and scream and drink, and don’t frown upon people making some noise.

But that’s a whole other issue.

I will be able to buy a couple of cases of beer for the same price that it would cost me to buy two beers at a game.

While I need a new Devils jersey to replace the one I have of a former Devils player who left for his “hometown team,” I won’t buy one. What for?

I might actually go catch a movie in a movie theater! I haven’t done that in awhile, mostly because I never seem to have a few extra bucks to go see a movie and buy a $9 popcorn. You see, I spend pretty much all the “extra money” I have, which I don’t really have, on hockey.

But with a lockout, I just might have those few extra bucks.

The regular season is scheduled to open on October 11th.

If the regular season doesn’t start on that day, I will not attend a single game this season, whenever “this season” starts. IF it starts.

If there is no season, I will not attend a single game next season.

The following season would be up in the air for me.

When economic times are as tough as they are, when people need to decide how they’re going to spend every dollar, especially “entertainment” dollars, people fighting over billions and not caring about the people that helped them get to that point is not what anyone wants to see.

Eventually, I would go to games again. I’ll always be a hockey fan. I’ll always be a Devils fan.

Hell, maybe I would even find cheaper ticket prices when I decided to go back! You know, the thing Mr. Bettman told fans they’d see after the last lockout. The thing fans never saw.

In the meantime, I would learn to enjoy some other things during the “hockey months,” while the fighting over money continued.

So, by not being able to decide how to split up a few billion, you will lose my couple of thousand.

I came right back after the last lockout. But, fool me once…

I’m only one fan, so I probably don’t matter much to you.

But I doubt I’m the only one that feels this way.

If you’re a fan of hockey, no matter what team, and feel the same way, feel free to comment below.

If you think I’m way off and couldn’t disagree more with my thinking, let me know why.

Last modified on October 1, 2012

Categories: General, Player News, Team News

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26 Responses to “Dear NHL and NHLPA”

  1. DRG Says:

    I’m a die-hard Rangers fan and i vote you, Devils fan, for Commissioner of the NHL.

  2. SpeakoftheDevs Says:

    I accept… and because of your vote, I will not banish the Rangers to the AHL! :)

  3. Joe Stanislau Says:

    I believe Mr. Bettmann you need to give back to the fans ans tell the owners to open up their hearts and wallets and give back to the fans. Economic times for people like me who pay $11 for game day just to get in and enjoy a game is great but if the owners and commissioners can give back to the fans that’s because I and many others are proud to pay for the players whom we are grateful for getting autographs from and getting gifts like pucks and sticks during a game.

    Mr. Bettman and NHL think about how dear the hearts and souls of the NHL fan base has grown since we had that contract with NBC Sports. If you executives can get a deal done right away your profits will build and the sport of Hockey will grow all over just like when expansion first began, but BIGGER.

    Remember don’t ask for so much money from the fans ask more from corporate sponsors and big businesses. Give the fans a financial break. If you want us to be the strongest and most loyal fans you better open up your hearts and wallets and not lie to us all.

  4. John Says:

    I totally agree have already decided to pull my season tickets be it small I am tired of this garbage and will indeed save thousands of dollars

  5. David Says:

    I agree with this completely. This is a well-written post.

    There is another angle, however, that seemingly nobody has picked up on. We are well aware that Gary Bettman has two work stoppages under his belt, but less known is the fact that the NHLPA is headed by Donald Fehr, who we might remember as the head of the MLBPA during the 1994 baseball player’s strike. That’s three work stoppages between the two men- that’s why I’m not on either side. Nothing makes me more fearful for the loss of some or all of the season than the fact that both sides are represented by someone who has a proven track record of not caring about the fans.

  6. Baroque97 Says:

    I agree with you. 41 regular season games time 3 hours spent watching each is more than 3 full work weeks, just in an investment of time. I have a lot of hobbies I want to pursue, books have piled up that I want to read, and life is getting shorter all the time. If NHL hockey isn’t more entertaining than other things I could do with my time – or if it is nonexistent – I have no problem switching my interest to something that will provide more entertainment, be less expensive than going to a game, and won’t be subjected to a lockout.

    It isn’t a giant moral stand, I don’t expect the NHL to care one whit about losing my attention and pittance of money, but I will be a lot happier person, and that’s all that matters to me. :)

  7. Gregg Tomlinson Says:

    Man, this is so brilliant. Great writing, great sentiment, and I feel 100% the same way. Chicago Wolves games, here I come.

  8. SpeakoftheDevs Says:


  9. Kris Says:

    I can understand being mad at the situation, but you can just sit and blame both sides. Thats like the blaming Bettman for this. Bettman is just the spokesman for his 30 bosses.

    I am fully on the players sides. The owners are crying poverty after years of record breaking revenue. The owners have taken the stance its my way or the highway. In Feb, the Wild owner stated that they are not making as much money as they would like. Yet, when July rolls around he allows his GM to hand out to contracts just under 100 million dollars each. Each contract carries a 10 million dollar signing bonus, which gets paid regardless of if there is a season or not. If there is no season, they again will pay each player another 10 million a piece before next season starts. So 40 million dollars with the potential to not bring anything in most of their revenue. They will bring in jersey money because Parise was the highest selling jersey in the month of July.

    The owners want to limit contracts to the length of 5 years. Yet how many contracts this summer were issued at longer lengths. Off the top of my head Parise, Suter, Weber, Hall, Eberle, Simmons, Hartnel, there could be more. If you dont want your GMs handing out these contracts dont let them.

    Now they want roll backs again or as they put it money from the salaries pu into escrow. Either way you look at it, the players are not going to get the money they are contracted to get. Thats like saying I know I told you I would pay you for whatever services you offered me but I dont make enough to pay that so heres 76 percent of that (24 percent was last rollback).

    They want to pay less in player salaries, its a simple fix. First eliminate the cap floor. That allows teams without money to be forced to spend money they dont have. Under the expiring cap formula the projected cap floor is where the original ceiling was. The cap floor raises players value because mid range players can get overpaid on a team with tons of cap room. So if a mid range player gets 4 million a season, an above average player is going to want 7 and a star is going to want 10. You dont have to spend money to win, so I dont want to hear the excuse from the Wild GM that if we didnt offer these contracts someone else would and we wouldnt get these 2 players. Well like my parents always said if your friends jump off the bridge are you going to also?

    Want to put an end to these cap circumvention contracts, its simple. First make no out in the contract other then buying them out. No sending them to the minors, like the Rangers do (cause they can afford to) or sending them to Europe like the Blackhawks did with Huet. Next redefine the cap hit. No more average cap hit, that allows the bogus years as seen on the Kovalchuk and Brad Richards contracts. Make the cap hit what the player receives over the course of the year, including signing bonus. That would make Richards contract a 12 million cap hit, Kovalchuk 11.5 million. The new circumvention contracts where Parise, Suter, Weber get low salaries but 10 million dollar signing bonuses, make the cap hit money earned over the course of the year. If theres no way to go around the cap hit then the cost of players will go down to keep teams under the cap. The current CBA has too many holes left open, close the holes and player contracts will go down.

    I feel the real problem is the owners. 1 the owners want rules with contracts to save themselves, instead of having rules within the organization on player contracts. Just cause a rich team can afford to hand out a contract size doesnt mean a poor team should to compete with them. Before the last lockout the Rangers went 7 years without making the playoffs yet had the top payrolls each year. Yet the Devils didnt and won. Phoenix had one of the lowest payrolls last season went to the conference finals. There is no reason that the Blue Jackets should be spending the money they are on player contracts. They arent a big market team yet they are about 58 million in player salary next season, which is just below the Rangers. Run your organization better instead of just trying to recover money by taking back from the players on contracts they have all ready signed. The second problem is jealousy. The NHL had one of the best CBAs of the 4 major sports, which is why it was renewed. Then the NFL owners and NBA owners got better deals in their CBAs and now the NHL owners want a better deal. The plans the players have offerred have shown how to generate the revenue without them giving it all (they also give some in them just not all) and the league has rejected them.

    I pick the players side because I feel they have given before and are still offering to give more just not give everything, because next time the cba is up the owners will say ok now we want more or were going to lock you out again. Stop blaming Bettman, he is just the mouth for his bosses, the team owners, and it makes the fans sound like they dont know whats goin on. If the owners lockout and then scapegoat Bettman to save face, when the next CBA comes up and they threaten to or lockout people will see its the owners not the person who filled in for Bettman.

  10. matt Says:

    I can go on two vacations with the money i spend on hockey in a year. The way things look now, I’ll be looking at some resorts with in the next month.

  11. Hank Says:

    Excellent commentary. The NHL and players should read it & know how ticked off the fans will be. It is outrageous that another lockout might occur.

  12. kasha Says:

    Ditto. I could not have put it one word better. Absolutely everything I would say and want to say if anyone who has any part of this “negotiations” cared at all about my feelings on this.

  13. SpeakoftheDevs Says:

    Thank you.

  14. Mess11 Says:

    Gary Bettman is not now or will every be a hockey executive. He didn’t come to be commissioner for love of the game but for love of money. He is currently making far too much. He has disrespected Canadian fans and all hockey fans. His aggressive expansion to southern and western USA has been a misguided attempt to compete for a lucrative US National TV contract which has never panned out. He fails to move money losing franchises to Canadian markets which would support a team. Instead we end up with red ink franchises like Phoenix which form the basis for Bettman bargaining position, that the league is losing money. As long as Bettman is in charge there will be not labor peace in Hockey.

  15. southernhockey915 Says:

    I loved this post! As a college student in a city that no longer hosts a hockey team, I spend WAY too much money that I don’t have to travel, buy a jersey, and especially tickets. It will feel weird actually having money in my savings account when our spring break road trip to Canada falls through. Instead of attending three hockey games in three different cities while seeing snow for the first time in a while, my friends and I will be relaxing on a beach. I’ve seen my city lose a team and I’m still more obsessed with hockey than ever. I didn’t know about hockey during the time of the last lockout. But I hope that what I am seeing, the uniting of the fans, reaches the upper level somehow and lets them know that we aren’t just going to sit back and say nothing while they abuse our support.

  16. Rob D Says:

    Great post my friend .. I say email this out to all NHL teams AND NHL offices AND the NHLPA .. see if you get a reasonable response, not a cookie cutter “We’re trying our best..” response.

  17. Joe G Says:

    The NHL really needs to get their act together… better yet, the whole professional sports world needs to step it up. The fact that these threats have to be made and the fact that we need to get so close to this “deadline” is absurd. I hope that fans will be smart and punish the league and the players if it comes down to a lockout. they do not deserve our money if they can’t sacrifice a little.

    This was SO well written and really should be seen by the organizations around the league. I spend a lot of money every year to see the Devils play and I sure as hell could be putting that other places (like my college loans for example) but I always say yes to the Devils because I stand behind my team…

    Let’s hope this lockout nonsense never happens again after this and lets hope they learn their lesson the second time around.

  18. Brian M Says:

    Die hard Rangers fans agreeing with Devils fans? The world really is coming to an end but I am totally with you my friend! This needs to be fowarded to all of the front offices immediately.

  19. Jeremy Says:

    Well put. I love hockey. I grew up watching Mario Lemieux do his thing and tried as hard as possible to do the same as him in the driveway. I’m 32 now and still to this day reflex upon the many great hockey moments in my life…simply being a spectator. It’s sad that “how to split BILLIONS” is may rob someone young looking for a hero from the chance to find Hockey this season.

  20. Christine C Says:

    Agreed, and shared. Needed to be said.

  21. Phil O'D Says:

    I agree whole heartedly and, in fact, posted something similar on my Facebook page about a month ago. If there is a season, I will not attend ANY games, even if given free tickets. If the season is cancelled, my protest will carry over to the next season that actually happens. And, like you, when they do return, MY return is still up in the air. I will still watch on television and root for my Devils, but they will not see me there at a single game.

  22. Micah Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly…I was having a conversation with my wife, who I met because of hockey, about this very topic. I said to her that I really haven’t cared about hockey since I heard the lockout was happening. I said (and this is a direct quote), “I wish I cared more about hockey. Actually, no I don’t. I will care about hockey when hockey cares more about me.”

    I play hockey at least once a week, and last season, the two of us went to 8 games at the Bell Centre. I deleted the emails I got offering me early buying, etc.

    The NHL and the NHLPA have forgotten who pays their bills. They forgot that they are performers, and if they don’t perform, or don’t care about giving performances, they wont have anyone to perform for when they finally get their acts together…if you want to make $3.3 Billion ever again, you better start remembering who makes that possible for you…

  23. Susan Parés Says:

    While reading this letter, tears started running down my face. Not only is it beautifully writted but I think its sentiments echo hundreds if not thousands of hockey fans. Hockey fans like myself who are so passionate about the sport and my team that I have rearrainged by personal and buisness life in order to watch my team play. And of course there is also the act of spending my precious dollars, money that in this economy is getting harder and harder to make on my team and merchandise as well: Jerseys, signings, games,food and beer etc….
    I fully support this letter and its contents and also will not attend any NHL games this year.

  24. Diana Says:

    I am a die hard Devils fan and have been for many years now.. I spent my hard earned money attending every home game last season as well as some in NY and PA.. I also attended the playoffs game in PA, 2 in NY and the ones at home.. I decided to purchase a season pass and this lockout happens.. there is no love for the fans.. just a love for our money.. as much as it pains me to say this, I won’t buy another season pass, nor will I buy merchandise, go to signings etc.. it’s disgusting how people can be over money while many fans struggle to buy anything NHL related.. I used up all my vacation time to attend games and I’m not complaining because I love the Devils, but now I will go away on vacations, my birthday and any other special day.. I am done! it pains me to no end to say this, but I am done..
    thank you for this letter and the opportunity for us to express ourselves..

  25. DyHrdMET Says:

    If you don’t want to “contribute a single dollar to their revenue this season” (as you said on twitter), you might want to cancel your cable bill too. The subscriber fees that you pay for MSG and MSG+ help Cablevision (owners of MSG and MSG+, and also the Rangers) pay for the TV rights to the Rangers, Devils, and Islanders. And MSG/MSG+ subscriber fees won’t go down because of the lack of programming. Same thing with NBC Sports Network, and if you subscribe to a package that includes it, NHL Network as well (both to Comcast, who owns the Flyers). That’s all part of the NHL’s revenue stream.

    But I like, in principle, your idea of boycotting a business that has done you wrong. But they don’t care about a couple of fans per game that won’t be there. Now, if you were a major advertiser of the league, and you were going to pull your money out, that would put tremendous pressure on the league.

  26. SpeakoftheDevs Says:

    I have DISH, they don’t carry MSG. I’ll watch games on streams online, which produce no revenue for the league.
    And I know they don’t care about about a few fans per game, that’s my whole point. But they will soon see that it’s not just a few fans per game. They’ve already lost the casual fan, and plenty of hardcore fans are right behind them. Hockey fans will always be hockey fans, so we’ll all be back, but they’ll certainly notice a short-term difference.