As a long time NHL and New York Ranger fan, going back to my early teens. I still remember the sting of the Rangers losing to the hated Bruins when I was in eighth grade. That sting was nothing compared to when they traded two of my favorite players Jean Ratelle and Brad Park a few years later. Later I was able to have season tickets from 1983 through 1995 thanks to thoughtful uncle who moved to Florida and rather than give them up, he gave them to me. But I’m not writing a history lesson or memoir of a fan, but I wanted to establish how much I have lived and died with the Blueshirts.
The highs of 1979, 1986 and ultimately 1994 (I was there, Section 402, Row A, Seat 2) have long since subsided. This year, unlike 2004 when I got so upset with the lockout that I forced a self-imposed blackout on myself just saying “wake me up when it’s over”, we are experiencing new lows as Rangers fans of the most helpless kind. The 24-second news cycle we now live today, makes it even harder to avoid and all the more frustrating.
We have a team ready to challenge for a Cup, a Vezina winner in his prime, a coach that’s has set a tone and tempo and he has the pieces in place to implement his plan. A leadership group in the dressing room that that keeps this talented, outworking bunch united. THIS IS TORTURE. Denying this iteration of Blueshirts the chance to play feels worse than seven straight years of missing the playoffs, it feels worse than hearing chants of “1940” and knowing you had absolutely no comeback. Dale Rolfe … Anders Hedberg … I’m getting depressed writing this.
For the first time in my life I am ashamed to be a hockey fan. Even more embarrassing than the fact that this is the third work stoppage in 18 years (Bettman’s legacy) is the lack of coverage in the States. Do the owners not see that no one in the national media gives a crap about the lockout. The NFL and NBA keep them more than busy.
In this era of sports labor discord, I find myself siding with one party over the other for the first time. So thorough is my support for the NHLPA that I would rather see them not play again than bend to this club of billionaires.
I don’t know when they’ll play again. Naturally I hope it is soon. If you told me there would be NHL hockey starting next week and the reason we have a CBA is because the players splintered, gave in and took what the owners “offered” against the advice of the union leadership, I don’t know if I would be that thrilled to watch them play.
I’m with you Carp, taking a hit-em-where-it-hurts approach. I told my family: This year for Christmas, I want no Rangers merchandise. I am waiting to see the outcome of the lockout as to whether or not I will cancel my Center Ice package. I know boycotts are usually pretty futile, but I am trying.
If I could impart one wish, one whim, one request onto this process, it would be to have them build in some protections against this happening again.
1. 18 months before the expiration of this CBA, mandatory monthly bargaining sessions would begin.
2. If no agreement is reached 6 months before the expiration date, the process goes to binding arbitration overseen by the FMCS.
3. An overhaul of Commissioner’s office so that it becomes neutral, as Mark Everson wrote in the Post: “That Commissioner’s sole duty, his mandate, would be to further the best interest of hockey — not just the interests of the franchisees, nor just those of the laborers. He would be “The Protector of The Puck”. It would require the franchisees and the players to agree to submit to someone with irreproachable motives and judgment.”
4. A buyout of the current Commissioner’s contract with both sides splitting the cost of that buyout.
5. The nominee for Commissioner would have to be approved by both sides and could only be removed before his contract is up if both the NHL and NHLPA agree on it.
6. A new Commissioner, who is paid 50% by the owners and 50% the NHLPA, will be installed.
Of course this will never happen because it would mean the owners giving up some leverage in future lockouts — I mean negotiations.