The NHL Lockout

There are usually more people in line for a hockey game than this meager crowd for Raw a couple of years ago.

I couldn’t bring myself to write this article when the NHL lock out was dragging on. Now that it looks like there will indeed be a deal (I’m not counting on it until everyone signs on the dotted line), I find myself in a quandary. The question I keep asking myself is – Do I support a poorly run franchise and sport just so I can keep watching the sport that I love the most or do I yank my money just to prove a point?

Let’s take a closer look the situation.

I give most of my money to the Columbus Blue Jackets because of my love for hockey more than my love for the team itself. I don’t have much of an allegiance with the Jackets because when I started following hockey, I started rooting for the Pittsburgh Penguins and no amount of relocating will change that for me. I have told several of my ticket agents that my only care in acquiring tickets is to guarantee a ticket to the Pens game because it sells out every year they travel to Columbus.  I upgraded to a half a season ticket package with a personal seat license so that I could guarantee tickets to the All Star Skills Competition, which has been a favorite for a long time, and the All Star Game, which I planned on selling because it’s not a high quality game. Now, the All Star Weekend was taken away from the franchise with no promising it’ll come back the next year since the players may be in the Winter Olympics in Sochi or at least 2015. At least I got my money back for those tickets already. I will be without watching the Pens now because each team will only play in their conference. The Penguins are in the East and the Jackets are in the West. A two and a half hour drive southwest sure does make a difference. My biggest draw is gone.

The Jackets have been beaten up during the lock out. In most of the reports I’ve read, they’re one of the low revenue clubs and they don’t have a strong fan base. I think the later part is false. Despite wanting to regularly smack the people around me for yelling “Shoot” when there isn’t a clear line to the goal, I think they have an excellent fan base that has been trampled because of incompetent management that has done a poor job at drafting, trading and signing of free agents. As a long suffering fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, I can tell you a thing or twenty (years) about bad management. The Blue Jackets fans have had to endure ten terrible seasons, one season with the playoffs (in which they got swept by the Detroit Red Wings) and one locked out season. That is no way to build up a fan base. All of this losing makes it look like there isn’t enough support here. No matter what hard core fans want to say, bandwagon fans will always be around for your franchise. The Blue Jackets would look a lot more like a strong fan base if the they could even accomplish an average season.

So my choice is pretty easy one in theory. Support a low revenue club who perpetually bungles management decisions or take my money back and teach them a lesson. After two lengthy lock outs and one full season down the tubes under Gary Bettman, I’m guessing taking money off the table won’t teach the owners or the players anything. I don’t get to see my favorite team so that takes away from a shortened season. Management did make one good decision during the lock out and hire John Davidson as president of hockey operations, who helped turn around the St. Louis Blues. Despite my anger at both the owners and the players, my love of hockey outweighs my present anger towards all involved in the lockout. I’ll go and enjoy some hockey when the puck drops even if it means giving money to imbeciles who’ll likely do the same charade in eight years when they both opt out of a ten year contract. -Kevin

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