July 06, 2005

A Hockey Player's Apology: At least one hockey player has the guts to admit he was wrong and lay the blame where it belongs, on the all too powerful union. Now, the test will be how long it will take for hockey to recapture its lost fans.

posted by tommysands to hockey at 10:41 AM - 46 comments

Garbage. "We're sorry that we didn't realize that the owners would break the union." It's always the fault of the side that gives in.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:06 AM on July 06

What a sad, sad article. The players aren't the only ones to blame here, and the odds of an owner apologizing in this fashion are somewhere between snowball-in-hell and monkeys-flying-from-my-butt, but a little contrition is a good thing, no matter where it comes from.

posted by chicobangs at 11:07 AM on July 06

It's always the fault of the side that gives in.: I think you got it backward. It should be "the side that gives in is always at fault".

posted by tommysands at 11:17 AM on July 06

It doesn't really matter what the players and owners say at this point if the fans go back and give them money. The media is playing this as stubborn union versus virtuous owners trying to save hockey. Both sides bear blame equally and the only way for us to return the favor is to stop giving them $$$. No tickets, no concessions, no paraphenalia - let them play in front of empty arenas for a while and see how well that fills their coffers.

posted by kokaku at 11:39 AM on July 06

the 'no cap' a ploy was to get the true revenue picture from the league. maybe all the players don't understand that, but that has always been the core issue. I presume the players were told by the union to stonewall a salary cap, because there was no way in hell the union would agree to a cap based on league figures, that excluded many legitimate forms of revenue. Once real discourse (that took way too long to start, probably because Bettman, though innately annoying, is one smart ass, knowing it would make the union look bad) began to take place regarding what constitutes revenues (I still can't wait to see what they agreed upon in this aspect of the new CBA), the rejection of a cap had achieved its purpose. that is why i don't see this as a total loss. the players were rightly afraid of being taken for a ride (tying salaries to arbitrarily defined revenues), and the new CBA should ensure that they weren't (by tying a floating salary cap to jointly defined revenues). regarding fanship : watching hockey gives me pleasure, and us humans are fickle when it comes to pleasure. i want to say i'll stand by my convictions and give the league no money this year, but i am of a forgiving nature....and winters are long, and there is much hockey (& beer) consumption to catch up on. I'll try my best to catch all the hockey I can on the cheap, but I can't make any promises. regarging actual hockey news : Jez has a hilarious piece on the Ovechkin tug-o-war.

posted by garfield at 11:47 AM on July 06

I hear ya garfield - do you think fans can hold off for a month of near empty stadiums - y'know just to remind them who pays the bills?

posted by kokaku at 12:17 PM on July 06

I personally wish that I could spend an entire year with no particular problems other than negotiating the number in millions of dollars that I would be allowed to receive in coming years. However, in the real world, the rest of us have to go on. We went on for a whole year without hockey. It's a heck of a lot easier to get by WITH hockey. For that reason, I simply do not care who is to blame. We get hockey back. Our season tickets are good again. We go back to our individualized rituals, the practice of which is sure to push our team into victory. I live in Minnesota. We simply have nothing else to get us through eight months of cold and darkness. My daughter thinks that the national anthem goes "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave let's play hockey." Now is not the time for the fans to take their proverbial toys and go home. The players and owners already proved who loses when that happens. Let's choose to be the grown-ups here, welcome our teams back with open arms, and show them exactly what they miss when they stomp their feet over a few petty millions. Let the money people worry about the money. As for me, I drug out my jersey, polished off my commemorative puck, went over the roster one last time for good measure, and I will be there, first in line, to watch that puck drop this fall. As I said, maybe the players can afford to be descriminating, but the rest of us just have to go on.

posted by hockeygirl at 12:29 PM on July 06

While I appreciate the sentiment, I can't help but desire a show of solidarity on the part of hockey fans by not showing up for the first game. Let is serve to remind all that idiocy should at least be acknowledged - even on such a vast scale as this.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:41 PM on July 06

From what I've learned, and I've learned way too much off-ice information the past 1.5 years, some hockey towns could substitute all regular attendees, and still fill arenas with new blood. Toronto is the example I read about. I'm sure the remaining Canadians cities fit this model, and maybe half of the American cities: NYR, NYI, BOS, CHI, DET, MINN, COL, BUF, STL, PHI, COL, DAL, LA, SJ....no particular order, and I'm not dissing the cities not cited, but I don't have a feel for fan....what's the cheesy demograhic term I'm looking for....saturation. So, maybe. A month is a bit long to hope for, but I'd be happy with a silent opening week, or even as Weedy says, the home opener. Corporate luxury boxes will be filled, or at least sold, I imagine.

posted by garfield at 12:54 PM on July 06

I would stay away, but the ACC has such good sushi.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:08 PM on July 06

I'm telling you, if they killed Bettman and Goodenow as a sign of good faith fans would accept the apology and flock back to the games (they probably still will anyway). Its not like any real people would be harmed. Did they implement the two-for-one season? Because I think it could work. They just play two games every game night so that we don't skip an NHL hockey season, we just get to watch two seperate seasons go on at the same time, concurrently rather than consecutively. Like a double header for baseball, but for the whole season and playoffs.

posted by chris2sy at 01:36 PM on July 06

I will be a hockey fan forever, no matter how long this lockout is.

posted by ballinboy967 at 01:55 PM on July 06

The fact is, it's everyones fault. Not just with hockey strikes but with any pro sports strike. As long as fans go to the games or buy the merchandise, We are to blame. As long as the owners spend ridiculous amounts of money for a player to join their team or keep him there, Owners are to blame. As long as players are allowed to think that playing a sport to make a living is more important than the E.M.S. or our fighting troops fighting all over the world protecting us, Players are to blame. AND worst of all, as long as the Agents exist making a cut from being a fast talker, they are very much to blame. As difficult as it would be staying away from a pro sporting event, that would be a great start in stopping this problem. Owners can have lockouts. Players can have strikes. So why can't fans do both sort-a speak? As fans, We obviously love our sports and the teams that represent our towns, but where does the fan draw the line? I don't care that an over-priced player says what he and the other players did was a mistake. I also don't care that a player will call me an a**hole because I'm upset about them being on strike. I sure don't care how much these people THINK they should make or get from profit sharing and regular pay! It's time for players to have the power taken away from them once and for all and just do as any employee working for an employer should do...Their Damn Job!!! At the same time, the owners need to be fair to their employees and give them what they DESERVE and nothing more or less!!! Then the league leaders should do their jobs and make sure that the fans are getting what they {WE} want, and that's our MONEYS WORTH!!! If this can't be achieved somehow, what's the point of anyone complaining? It all starts with US, the fans to get our voices heard. We are in many ways, all of their employers. Without us, none of them can exist.

posted by melcarek69 at 01:57 PM on July 06

By the way, I am a huge hockey fan and just want my damn hockey back!

posted by melcarek69 at 01:58 PM on July 06

When baseball went down in '94, I swore I'd never go back. And I never have. It's been 11 years and counting since I last spent a dime on MLB anything, and I don't miss it one bit. With hockey, I'll go back, because it's in my blood. But I won't be happy about it, and I don't for one moment think less of anyone who quits on this league.

posted by chicobangs at 02:02 PM on July 06

The owners have their association and the players have their union. What we need is a fan's union. Then, we could "negotiate" from strength. Can you imagine, "lower the damn ticket prices, or we'll strike". Anyone want to join me?

posted by tommysands at 02:07 PM on July 06

I'll join u!

posted by ballinboy967 at 02:20 PM on July 06

When baseball went down in '94, I swore I'd never go back. And I never have. It's been 11 years and counting since I last spent a dime on MLB anything, and I don't miss it one bit. Do you refrain from watching MLB games on TV? TV deals are huge revenue source for owners. If you're watching, you are (indirectly) giving them a dime or two. Same thing can be said about a hockey boycott. To make it really effective, it would have to extend to media coverage too.

posted by qbert72 at 02:21 PM on July 06

qbert: yes, as a matter of fact, I do. Now, I live in NYC, so I don't yell at bartenders to turn the game off, because I'm not that kind of straightedge antibaseball jackass. I have many friends who live and die with the Mets/Yankees/Nats/etc, and I totally understand. But I follow it passively now instead of actively. "Hey, Pedro won!" "Oh. Okay." I'm not a hardass about it. I just don't care about players that don't care about me, and I found that I was able to cut baseball out of my heart pretty cleanly. Hockey will be a much harder thing to fall out of love with, and I understand that. I suspect and fear that a lot of hockey fans will feel the same way as I do about baseball. And like I said, I don't blame them if they do.

posted by chicobangs at 02:36 PM on July 06

I agree with all of you that as fans, We are weak to an extent. Most of us look forward to watching the games with the great rivalries. I am a fan of baseball, football and hockey. All have had recent strikes or walk-outs with-in the last decade and a half. Baseball got it's fans back with records being broken starting with Ripkins record breaking games played and continuing with the McGuire-Sosa homer-run derby. Football is the ultimate guy sport to fill a sunday afternoon and evening. Where would We be without that on Thanksgiving? But yet, When there was a strike, We all came back. Hockey may not be loved by the U.S. as much as Canada but is my sport of choice and I'm in Chicago {please no BlackHawk jokes!}. Even watching Bonds a couple years ago breaking the home-run record made people excited as it will if the Juicer makes it back to go for the all time season record. I personally don't care about that at all. Anyway, Hockey may come back this fall, but it won't get the same amount of fans to return only because it's biggest stars pale in comparison to the stars of football and baseball unfortunately. When We finally do get our hockey back, I will watch because just like most of you, I am weak when it comes to sports and have to have it. If there is a "fan strike" one day, sign me up, just make sure that like AA there is some sort of sponsor to call when those weak times occur.

posted by melcarek69 at 02:41 PM on July 06

And hockey is much easier to Not Watch on the teevee, simply because it's not on all that much, comparatively. Even with just basic cable, there are nights you can watch six different MLB games, where that would be an entire night's sked in the NHL. That kind of boycott is a lot easier when there's other options, like the Hot Dog Eating Contest re-run or Dogs Playing Poker or the Obese Beach Volleyball Tour or Stoned NFL Stars Bowling In Fat Pants or whatever.

posted by chicobangs at 02:42 PM on July 06

I wouldn't fault anyone who gave up on this league, either. All I would say is, if you're going to quit, quit with dignity. WE (the fans) are the ones who have been wronged here, and whether we go or stay, we have to do it with our heads held high, believing that we're doing the right thing. This crawling back with apologies (or not even bothering to crawl back with apologies) is consummately wimpy. I for one would have a lot more respect for a player who owned up to the fact that he struck because he was greedy, than for one who says, "The Union made me do it." Same goes for the fans. If we go back, we go back the victors -- after all, we got hockey back, didn't we? If we stay away, we stay away out of a sense of conviction that the recent behavior of the NHL should not be condoned. Either way, we have to be the ones to take a stand and stick to it. I've already said that I'm going back, but I fully support those who choose to stay away. Power in this country comes from the dollar. We ALL have control over where we choose to spend our money. If we choose not to own this sport in America, then it will cease to exist. If we choose to own it, then it will continue. No matter how much the players make, the net worth of the fans far exceeds the players' paychecks. Therein, one way or another, lies the fans' strength.

posted by hockeygirl at 02:43 PM on July 06

The problem with us fans is that we're too nice and not organized. Notice the posts. Some say "I'm boycotting but I understand those who don't". And some say "I'm not boycotting but I can support those who do". Of the 4 major groups in sports, owners, players, unions and fans, we're the largest and collectively have the money. Yet, we have no voice. Where else is size and money not heard? And only "balling" has taken me up so far on forming a fan's union. Go HFA !! (hockey fans of America).

posted by tommysands at 03:02 PM on July 06

Bring back Hockey Night in Canada is all. It will be very interesting when this is settled (owners on verge of crushing CBA win) with all the players changing teams. In terms of getting fans back, a ticket price survey suggests that many clubs are offering deals on tickets. Though the places that probably would have the least problem getting fans back are offering vague "we'll see what the CBA says before deciding what to do with our ticket prices" (ie no change or the usual increase).

posted by gspm at 03:31 PM on July 06

And only "balling" has taken me up so far on forming a fan's union. Start with a petition. Those always have a huge effect.

posted by YukonGold at 03:36 PM on July 06

Actually, I did order one of those NHLFU shirts back during the season that never was, when someone posted the link here. Just because I thought the shirt was funny really.

posted by chris2sy at 03:45 PM on July 06

Start with a petition "Goldie", do you really think this kind of petition has any effect?

posted by tommysands at 03:47 PM on July 06

It's the only way to exact change in America today. - "Goldie"

posted by YukonGold at 04:23 PM on July 06

Sigh. I'm not a hockey fan. I'd like to become one, now that I live in an NHL town and work right across the street from the venue, but this strike has made me leery of trying to engender any interest. There are a lot of pissed-off disgusted fans in this town (Columbus) and I've seen a lot of outrage and frustration here on SpoFi. Maybe I'll wait a year and then give the NHL a look.

posted by alumshubby at 07:02 PM on July 06

Don't let the actions of a few spoiled brats scare you. The people come and go, but hockey remains hockey. It's the game that really matters. There is nothng in the world like the sounds of skates and sticks on ice. The game is fast, challenging and incredibly fun to watch. It will take you an entire season just to understand everything--you won't have time to worry about the players and owners behaving like children this past year. Once you understand it, as you can see by many of these postings, you're hooked. Give the game a chance, even if some of the people involved in it leave something to be desired.

posted by hockeygirl at 07:31 PM on July 06

Hey "girl", I'm becoming convinced that you work for the NHL public relations department.

posted by tommysands at 10:11 PM on July 06

Actually, what stuns me the most is how utterly useless the whole lockout was. A $37 million hard-cap, 24% roll-back and no player can make more than 20% of the teams entire salary? So, then, exactly what the fuck were you holding out for? However, if the game improves, they kill Jacques Lemaire, remove the redline and score some fucking goals maybe a little dignity can be saved. I wanna see at least a few 100 point performers out there next year people. If it's the same damn game played for less money - that's it, I'm moving to Russia.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:15 AM on July 07

Lemaire and his great unsolvable system ain't going anywhere, so das vedanya, Comrade McSmokey. (I kid, I kid, I just wanted to type that out. I'm quixotically hopeful too.)

posted by chicobangs at 09:21 AM on July 07

if the game improves, they kill Jacques Lemaire I'm so fucking tired of this. If you love hockey, you have to respect Jacques Lemaire. He's the most brilliant hockey mind of the last three decades. I don't understand how Moneyball-friendly Spofites can't see that he's Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta all wrapped into one. He gets consistently better results for lower costs, by applying reasoned analysis to the game. Isn't that the reason why everyone here is constantly praising the A's?

posted by qbert72 at 09:23 AM on July 07

Sorry, nope. Hockey and baseball are apples and oranges - as are the trap and Moneyball. Moneyball is a strategy, the Trap is a tactic. Lemaire is not Billy Beane, he didn't invent the trap, he borrowed it from the Swedes as a method to counteract his team's lack of talent - it's "brilliance" is non-existent - clog the neutral zone and send in one forechecker. Neutralize any speed in a speed game; any creativity in a creative game. It's not a question of respect, it's a question of boredom. Though I do believe it's an aberration - neither Calgary, nor Tampa Bay were trap teams, and Minnesota was pretty bad anyway. So fuck it. The trap kills hockey. Hell - Philly was very successful in the 70s as a total squad of goons (an overstatement, but you get the idea) - doesn't mean that it was "brilliant" or long-lasting.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:42 AM on July 07

You know, even though it'd be a huge blow to the NHL, if the league finally gets the cap they want and then lose Sidney Crosby to Europe because of it, I would laugh. Loudly. And for a very long time.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 09:50 AM on July 07

Moneyball is a strategy, the Trap is a tactic. I don't get the difference. I hate the Trap and all it stands for, but I think qbert's point stands: given limited resources, the Trap is a way to take solid, undervalued players and turn them into a winning team. Guys who'll take a walk and hit for good secondary power aren't much different from forwards who can play D.

posted by yerfatma at 10:01 AM on July 07

Thanks for the support, yerfatma. I don't get the difference either. Lemaire is not Billy Beane, he didn't invent the trap, he borrowed it from the Swedes Billy Beane didn't invent Moneyball either, he collected non-traditional wisdom from a variety of sources, and was the first one to successfully apply it in a major league. Again, I don't see the difference. Neutralize any speed in a speed game; any creativity in a creative game. Sounds a lot like Moneyball to me: don't ever steal a base, don't ever try to "manufacture runs".

posted by qbert72 at 10:27 AM on July 07

"Goldie," that was brilliant.

posted by Samsonov14 at 10:41 AM on July 07

The difference between the trap and Moneyball is that you can run a trap with ANY players. The players are adapted to the system (or the quality of the players dictates the approach) rather than using the system to help select players. The trap is more like infield shift teams will employ against Carlos Delgado. If Crosby is capped at 850k by the new CBA but could make quadruple that (or more) playing overseas you'd still have to think about the endorsements he'd rake in over here that he would miss out on overseas. The money, then, might be a moot point. Everybody is hockey is salivating over this guy The draft rumour says a lottery with all 30 teams getting an equal shot at top spot. The idea I'd had, which I saw on hockey rumours, was to take the past three years of standings cumulatively and rank the teams for the lottery that way (Columbus would be #1 according to Eklund). But since it is the big money teams (except for the Rangers) who'd most likely have their chances reduced in such a scheme and the prize is the one guy that people have been salivating over for years then the one team/one ball approach will probably be the way forward.

posted by gspm at 11:10 AM on July 07

thanks Samsonov, I was worried that went right under the radar.

posted by YukonGold at 11:49 AM on July 07

Well you gotta hand it to the players whoo were truely against this whole ordeal and wanted to play for their fans. A lot of them went to a lower league of hockey just to show us that they do care and hope that there is a ending coming to all this and they still want to see us support them. Forget the other players that decided to sit at home or do whatever it was they were doing , they showed they did really give a care about the fellings of hockey fans or anyone else.

posted by flamechaser9504 at 12:09 PM on July 07

Sorry didn't mean to imply that Beane "invented" Moneyball - but that is a front office thing, the trap is a on ice tactic. And what GSPM said - anyone can play a trap. There's nothing specialized about it.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:14 PM on July 07

Well you gotta hand it to the players whoo were truely against this whole ordeal and wanted to play for their fans. Well, I don't think the North American players that played in Europe were really playing for their fans. They were playing for their wallets, as 90% of their fans in North America had no chance of watching them play in a time zone as much as 9 hours away.

posted by grum@work at 01:48 PM on July 07

Forget the other players that decided to sit at home Sorry Iginla, Lemiuex, Yzerman, Doan etc, looks like I have to forget you because you decided to chill rather that take another player's job someplace else.

posted by gspm at 02:25 PM on July 07

Never fear, "Goldie," lots of people recognized him, they were just ashamed to admit it.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:12 PM on July 07

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