Impact of NHL lockout goes beyond the on-ice product

NEW YORK – Along with so many fans Pro Hockey News has struggled to some degree without the National Hockey League.   We and our readers have benefitted from our global coverage of the sport.   The United Kingdom for one, has not missed a beat with the lockout in North America.  
 
In fact, over the last few weeks we have been surprised, sort of, by the thunderous indifference with which the lockout has been met.  
 
The acrimony between the players and the owners has been discussed but the real issues have been avoided or misunderstood.
 
We have not waded into the lockout because we have been busy covering the sport at its various levels here and overseas.
 
We are also not the experts when it comes to the money issues plaguing the negotiations.  
 
What we do know is the impact on those who depend on the “game”.   Parking lot attendees, ticket takers, customer service representatives, radio and television producers and technicians, hockey writers, team staff, league staff, and any of a host of other people and support functions affected by the lock out.   All are out of work with no prospects.
 
The lay-off options have grown in an economy that can hardly absorb those already unemployed and job seeking.
 
And what are we left with?   Finger pointing and accusations by two sides otherwise swimming in hundred dollar bills during the season.  
 
How is the casual fan to see this behavior?   Never mind the casual fan, what about those of us who love the sport and count the days to opening faceoff every season?
 
We have been discussing this entire issue with a television producer specializing in hockey on the east coast; a trusted friend and colleague.
 
His ability to ply his trade has been stopped by the lockout and the failed negotiations.   In an effort to define his career’s plight and those of his colleagues, he delivered a letter to the thirty NHL franchise owners last week.
 
In part, the letter reads:
 
I don’t know if you will see this but I wanted to drop you a note in these extremely difficult times for the game of hockey.
 
My reason for contacting you is the lockout. I’m not one of these crazy fans who go around with their vitriol towards everyone involved with the game of hockey at the NHL level of play. I’m different because it is my lifestyle and how I make part of my living. I work as a freelance production person for the visiting teams’ television crews when they come to the New York and New Jersey arenas. When your team comes east to play I work on the television crew who produces the games. So you can imagine right now numerous colleagues of mine who work with me are starting to suffer financial hardships.
 
I feel that because of the lockout my time in the game of hockey might be over. When and if the game returns, money is going to be tough for some teams that I work with to afford the costs, involved with the production of games. They will have to make changes and I feel I will be finished covering games.
 
Right now hockey is dying and it seems like it is going to never return to what it once was. People are very fed up with all the name-calling and the problems in the meetings for the CBA. It is time for all sides to figure out how to save the game before the buzzer sounds and it ends badly for all involved.
 
I thank you in advance for your time.
 
How does one respond to this plea for a sane resolution to the lockout and its failed negotiations?   It has been reported that some NHL players having gone to Europe have returned because conditions abroad are not what they are used to here.   Perhaps because they saw how players overseas are playing for the love of the game and accept their conditions as a price to pay.
 
The owners are staring down the horizon as they see dollars saved while teams are idled.  
 
But the product is getting stale, fans are finding other outlets for their affections, players are getting older and rusty, owners are seeing their clubs get older and perhaps no longer Cup competitive if and when the league returns to play.
 
And those dependent on league action are unemployed and without viable income and await the richest of the sport to finish their squabble and resolve their seemingly petty differences.
 
No one wins in this game of truth or dare.
 
At what point does a shortened season make a mockery of the NHL and its member franchises and players?
 
Resolve this or make the tough decision on the season and let those dependents go on with their lives and careers.
 
Publisher’s Note :   Have a comment?   Contact us at Comment@prohockeynews.com .   We will compile the responses in a series of commentaries on our site.   And don’t forget our AHL, ECHL, CHL, Single A, Juniors, UK, EU, Australian, Asian, African, and global coverage.   The sport is indeed worldwide and there are options for fans’ affections.   And we cover it.
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