Some ‘fan fair’ about NHL lockout

I can’t believe we’re going through another NHL lockout. I don’t think there has ever been a time where the owners and players have been so out of touch with their fans.

I can’t believe we’re going through another NHL lockout. I don’t think there has ever been a time where the owners and players have been so out of touch with their fans.

While things are a bit better here in Canada, in North America as a whole the economy has been crap.

People are losing their homes, struggling to find work and relieved to find a job that pays more than ten bucks an hour.

Do you know how much an NHL player makes an hour? Me neither. But it’s a whole lot more than ten bucks.

Right now the average salary per game is $29,878, so given that a game takes three hours to play counting intermission, you could say they make a minimum wage just shy of ten thousand dollars an hour. Of course, they don’t just put in the three hours we see in the arena…but still.

If minimum wage average Joe wants a great seat it can cost him $300…something he might work 30 hours to afford.

By the same token the average NHL player would have to pay almost $300,000 for a seat just to gain proper empathy for what a fan sacrifices to watch him play.

If you’re a top-paid superstar like Alex Ovechkin who pulls in $109,756 per game or $36,585 ‘per hour’ you would have to shell out well over a million dollars a seat just to get a feel for what it costs to be a fan!

And that doesn’t even include poutine fries and a beer.

I don’t know. Maybe the owners are greedy, maybe the players deserve a bigger slice of the money-oozing hockey pie, but I’m just saying it’s not like anyone — owner or player — is hurting for pocket change. And a lot of their fans are.

Back in the day hockey was something played for love of the game.

Players even had day jobs to support their hockey habit. I can remember reading about one player who moonlighted as a fireman and had to leave in the middle of a playoff game to fight a blaze.

I’m not saying we should return to those helmetless days of yore, but if fans are willing to give up 30 hours of their wages just to watch their hockey heroes play for one evening, maybe the owners and the players can sacrifice a little too.

I keep hearing the players justify their position by saying there wouldn’t be a game without them; how they’re the ones putting themselves out there and risking injuries. No one seems to realize there wouldn’t be a game without the fans. Fans are putting in full days of sweat and injury risks too; but in their case it’s for basic wages. It is the fan’s hard earned dollars that pay for the game played by millionaires.

What would happen if the lockout continues and when things are finally resolved fans refuse to forgive and forget? I know a few hardcore supporters who are vowing to do exactly that. They were willing to overlook the last lockout but having another one happen so soon has left them with the “Fool me once” attitude. Of course once the hockey pucks drop they may weaken their stance. We are Canadian after all.

But, what if the doors finally open…and nobody is there? What if the hockey song plays and the people on the couch yawn and switch channels? Or what if they’re down at the arena playing the game themselves or cheering on a beer league instead? With no one to watch, how long before both owners and players cash in their hard-bartered zillion dollar agreements for a big wad of cold hard diddlysquat?

I just heard they are preparing to head back to the bargaining table. Can you imagine if the owners and players called a press conference and said, “You know what? We’ve been a bunch of knuckleheads. We talked it over and we don’t need any more of your money. We’re already making waaaay too much. We just want to open the arenas and play the game for our fans since they’re the ones who make it all possible. We apologize for losing sight of that. As a small token of our appreciation the first game is on us; including poutine fries and a beer.”

Or better yet, take the 17 percent they’re fighting over and deduct it from the ticket prices for the entire season. And next year’s too.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from Northern BC. You can catch up on past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com

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