Monday, January 7, 2013

Yes, You Have a Voice!

The hockey world awoke this morning (01/06/13) to the news that the Board of Governors of the National Hockey League have reached a tentative agreement on a "collective bargaining agreement" with the members of the National Hockey League Players' Association. For the sake of this post, we'll assume the agreement will be ratified and play will begin in the NHL on or about Jan. 19 with a 50 or more likely, a 48 game schedule with teams playing teams in their own conference only.

I for one, couldn't care less if the NHL season resumed. I'm thinking I'm not alone with that sentiment and that feeling was growing at a rate that alarmed both the NHL and the NHLPA playing at least a small role in the aforementioned tentative agreement. 

I hope the parties are alarmed because throughout the "negotiations" (that's a bit of a stretch), with the exception of an ill-conceived comment by the league Commissioner (Gary Bettman), the group that actually provides the millions and millions of dollars that were the center of the work stoppage, the fans, were all but ignored. 

Well NHL fans, you do have a voice and now is the time to use it! Failure to do so will make fans part of the problem as they will validate the aforementioned Mr. Bettman's comment that the NHL has the most loyal fans of all sports leagues. He might as well have stated that regardless of the way NHL fans are ignored during the process and regardless of the way the league and the players use the money the fans infuse, those fans, like lemmings, will return to place their stamp of approval on the new collective bargaining agreement. 

I'm reminded of a scene in the movie, "The King's Speech" when Geoffrey Rush's character, Lionel Logue, finally inspires Colin Firth's lead character to use his voice. The scene is one of those stand up and applaud scenes. It takes place in Westminster Abbey as Lionel Logue helps the future King George VI prepare for his coronation. Here's a transcript:

King George VI: [sees Logue seated on the coronation throne] What are you doing? Get up! You can't sit there! GET UP!!!
Lionel Logue: Why not? It's a chair.
KG VI: No, that's not just a chair. That is Saint Edward's chair.
LL: People have carved their names on it.
KG VI: [simultaneously] That ... chair ... is the seat on which every king and queen has ... that is the stone Stone of Scone you ah are trivializing everything . You trivialize ...
LL: [simultaneously] It's held in place by a large rock! I don't care how many royal arseholes have sat in this chair.
KG VI: Listen to me. "LISTEN TO ME"!
LL: Listen to you? By what right? 
KG VI: By divine right if you must! I am your king!
LL: No you're not. You told me so yourself. You didn't want it. Why should I waste my time listening?
KG VI: Because I have a right to be heard. I have a voice!
LL: [pause] Yes, you do!

Now make no mistake. The NHL lockout is in no way to be compared to the importance of a speech to be made by the future king of Great Britain as that nation prepared to be embroiled in the Second World War but just as King George had a voice, NHL fans do as well and here's how I would suggest they use it.

The "first home game" for each team should be played to as empty a building as possible. No one should purchase a ticket and season ticket holders (who will have to sacrifice more) need to stay away as well. No one should watch a home opening game on TV. That sends a clear message to league and team sponsors. If that were to occur, the NHL, the NHLPA and its sponsors will realize that it's the fans who cannot be ignored. Players' salaries and league revenue come from the fans. Each team would play to an empty arena twice. After that, fans can flock back in droves if they wish. But the message will have been sent in the only way it can be sent, by combined absence.

If, on the other hand, the buildings for each team's home opener are filled, exactly the opposite message will have been sent and make no mistake, both the NHL & the NHLPA will be listening.

You have a voice! Use it or for the next ten years, lose it!


  1. HI Bill
    Have you seen this You Tube video. Steve Chase is a very good friend of Terry's. He lives and works in Los Angeles as a Commercial Director. He got a lot of coverage from all over Canada and the U.S. about this video. Cheers, Debbie O'Reilly

    1. Would help if I remembered to add the link.