While the NHL owners and the NHLPA play a seemingly endless game of "who will blink first," the fans are left to twist in the wind.
The so-called negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) have become nothing more than a mockery. It is evident that both sides have forgotten who, ultimately, foots the bill for these millionaires and billionaires to continue lining their pockets. It is, of course, the fans.
It is also evident that both sides have a callous disregard for the livelihoods of the thousands of employees that have been affected by their greed and stubbornness - those people who work in the hockey rinks, the souvenir shops, the parking lots, the restaurants and bars and a myriad of other related industries. They have all been forced to tighten their belts while this charade continues to drag on. And, when hockey is finally played in the rinks across North America, the average fans and their families will be hard pressed to afford to buy a ticket.
The posturing by both sides only serves to bolster the already inflated egos of Mr. Bettman and Mr. Fehr. This ongoing saga has seen the 1994-95 season shortened and the 2004-05 season cancelled altogether. The current stalemate will ensure that there will be consequences that will be felt for years to come. Will the NHL be able to support a 30-team league following yet another shortened or cancelled season? Several hockey franchises, particularly those in some of the southern states, are already on thin ice. Will their fan base become increasingly bored and disillusioned? Are the successful franchises prepared to shore up those that are floundering? Will large corporate sponsors continue to throw good money after bad by supporting a league that continues to bite the hand that feeds it? These and other questions will be answered in the coming months and years.
In the meantime, the remaining fans that are still loyal to this troubled league can only sit and wait. They can only speculate about ticket prices - not whether they will increase, but rather, by how much.
Terry Godfrey Coquitlam