Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Season Or Not - The Damage Is Done

Everyone knows the story of the how the Grinch Stole Christmas.  It has been replayed countless times, there are multiple versions, and despite the twists and turns of the story – the plot and ending remain the same.  At the end of the show; the Grinch goes riding back into Whoville with all the weird named decorations, foods, and presents to give back to those he had stolen from.

While there might be a bitter sole in Whoville, for the most part – all is forgiven and the Grinch is accepted based on his miraculous change of heart.

Right now, the NHL Lockout has two grinches, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr.  Whether or not the Lockout ends is in their hands – and when it does end, there will be no resounding chorus of forgiveness from Whoville the fans.

According to a third party marketing firm – the NHL brand is teetering on ridiculuos meltdown, with public reaction that is worse than when a brand study was conducted on BP Oil after the Gulf of Mexico disaster.  If BP had its Deepwater Horizon Disaster – the only thing the NHL is in is deepwater.

It’s not so much that the NHL is ruining the environment – they are ruining themselves.  Where you once had a passionate die hard core group of fans that would watch your sport regardless, you now have many that have feelings of, well they don’t have feelings for you at all anymore.  People stopped caring.

It’s almost like every one of those sappy Christmas movies where Santa has to make do with technology and other enhancements because there is no more Christmas Spirit throughout the world – and by some magic happening in the real world he gets his magic bag filled bag up just in time to save the day.

I don’t think there is going to be a happy ending for the NHL.  It has gone too far.  There is no saving grace for a league that struggled to keep fans to begin with.

Oh sure, they will come back.  But who will watch them?  I almost wish people would stop asking me how I am doing without hockey – because the question is just getting old.  I’ve already replaced the NHL from my activities this year.  I’ve replaced it with family time, other sports, work.  There is no joy in getting up and dashing to my computer to see what news happened while my eyes were shut for a few hours.

Oh sure, I still love the game, and take every chance to watch it.  I’ll play in pickup hockey games if I am invited, I will follow international tournaments, and when the NHL comes back – I will be there, but with less enthusiasm – from home – and I won’t be heart broken if I miss a game or two or three because I have other plans.

Donald Fehr has chosen hockey to end his legacy of murdering the professional sports game.  Gary Bettman won’t budge off his position.  Any legal dissolving of the NHLPA will further send the sport of hockey in North America spiraling downward.

Robin Williams had more than a few one line statements during his stand up career (that keeps on going and going and going) – and one of my favorites was a comment he made when we were invading Afghanistan – about bombing them back to the stone age – with an Afghan response of ooh, upgrade!  Now while this is for comedy only, the Afghans were not in the stone age, it is in effect what the NHL is doing to itself.

They are taking themselves with this Lockout and decertification to back before the Lockout of 2004, back to before the labor strike of 1994 – and resetting themselves to an era in hockey that most owners and players want to forget because it wasn’t as lucrative or followed as well.

I’ll continue to follow the news and write about hockey, because it is one thing I love doing – its an escape from reality for me.  At this point though, its all about me anymore, my love for the NHL and its game has extinguished.

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Tags: Lockout NHL

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