As a teenager, I once asked my dad why he never took us to NHL games.
“I won’t spend that much money to watch a bunch of millionaires skate around,” he said.
Until that moment, I’d never thought of pro hockey in that way.
Of course, I understood these guys were rich and famous, but I’d always assumed they were truly driven by their pure passion for the game they loved.
Despite my father’s skeptical view, I grew up to be an avid adult hockey fan.
During the 2005 lockout, I looked past the greed, the disloyalty and the utter disregard for fans. I focused all my rage and disappointment on commissioner Gary Bettman and the other suits who cared more about money than hockey.
When NHL players returned to the ice the following season, I was overjoyed and more dedicated to the game than ever.
With the 2005 lockout still fresh in our minds, we find the NHL mired in another strike, reminding us again us that money, not passion, drives this game we hold so dear.
Last week, the players union firmly rejected an NHL proposal that offered a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenues and ensured a full regular-season schedule. The players’ association countered with three offers that were immediately dismissed by the league.
Since then, there have been no more serious attempts at resolution.
The lockout is now in its 48th day and it’s looking more and more likely there will be no 2012-2013 season.
This most recent lockout is more than my damaged hockey heart can handle.
This time, I’m bewildered, sad, disappointed — but most of all, I’m angry.
Hockey fans, it’s time for us to fight back.
It’s time to stand up and actively remind NHL players ownership that fans buy the tickets, fans drive sponsorship. Fans are their only reason for existence and without fans, these so-called ‘heroes’ and ‘superstars’ would have to get real jobs like the rest of us.
I call on all hockey fans across Canada to express their disgust and dissatisfaction. Flood your favourite NHL team with emails. Join a Fan Strike Facebook group (I recommend www.facebook.com/2012FANSTRIKE).
But don’t stop there.
At some point, this lockout will end and that will be our opportunity to really hammer our message home.
When the NHL returns, don’t rush out to buy season tickets. Don’t get your kid an Oilers jersey for Christmas.
Don’t even watch NHL hockey on TV for a little while.
In essence, I’m calling on you to flip the NHL the bird and strike genuine fear into Bettman’s greedy little heart.
Money-minded players and owners have twisted today’s game into something ugly and impure.
But we, as fans, have the power to put things right.
Leo Paré is the Advocate’s online editor. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LeoPare.