To me, hockey is my escape. I am underemployed, I am struggling to put myself back through college, I have lost most of the luxuries I once enjoyed but I still had hockey.
Hockey to me is pure.
Imagine an office where 99% of the employees loved their jobs and gave it 100% everyday.
Imagine making hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars doing the job that you love.
That is a luxury that the average hockey fan cannot afford. For us we wake up everyday to the grind, just fighting to survive life wherever it is that we live. Some make excellent livings but nowadays many of us are just getting by. In a time of crooked politicians and corporate corruption we still had hockey.
I am sure the players and the NHL appreciate their fans but at the end of the day we are also clients. We are the revenue source. We are the opportunity for these people to play the game that they love and make a handsome living in the process.
I live on Long Island. I am an Islanders fan. I recently watched a documentary on HBO on Demand call Hard Times: Lost on Long Island. The scenarios shown by the people featured is real life. That video only featured a few but represented millions. Times are tough but in times like these it is the purity of the sport that allows myself and I am sure many others the opportunity to believe, hope, enjoy and have something to look forward to 2 or 3 times a week.
So I am writing this letter not to just one side of the debate but to both the NHL and NHLPA.
While you are all out living your dreams many of us can escape our reality through the GAME that you play. It is a give and take relationship. We manage to scrape together enough to support our teams and allow you ALL to make a tremendous amount of money. Money well beyond the median incomes of every country represented.
While you argue over millions of dollars in each direction, try to imagine how the ordinary fan might feel and be bewildered by the mutual greed shared by both sides.
This situation right here is symbolic of everything that is wrong with our world today. The purity is quickly draining from the game and people will eventually move on.
I understand it is a business and decisions need to be made but given the current economic climate in the world today you would think both sides would be doing EVERYTHING possible to make changes to ensure future employment for both sides. You are not immune to this economy. Owners helping owners like neighbors helping neighbors. Players being loyal employees because they love the company the work for. They have a vested interest in the companies success.
Every contract going forward should be tiered based on performance. Same standards any regular employee is held to. If it is a business then treat it like one. If I come in to work and refuse to work or decide I am only working half as hard today as I usually do then I lose my job. Maybe a dose of reality is what everyone needs.
Look at it this way, if you don't fix the situation then you risk losing teams. That means less players will be needed. Unemployment soars from players to staff. The KHL can only handle and afford so many contracts. Less fans. Slowly more teams drop off. Think of the rivalries, Rangers-Islanders, Rangers-Devils. Honestly, without rivalries the game becomes less exciting.
It is a domino effect and its time to come to an agreement before you do irreparable damage to the people who support you most.