Rage Against The (Ice) Machine: Airing of Lockout Grievances

Donal Fehr just learned what the word 'negotiate' means - Bruce Bennett

As the Festivus season is upon us, we partake the years old tradition of 'Airing of Grievances'. Since much of our grief centers around hockey, a few of the writers decided to let the NHL and NHLPA know how they really feel.

JEN:

Dear NHL & NHLPA,

I want my money back.

If this entire CBA "negotiation" comes down to who gets more money, then I want in, too. I mean, you said it yourself, you feel bad for me, the lowly little fan. Here is how you can help.

I saw my very first live hockey game in 1996 and fell in love with the sport. And now, after 15 years of being a diehard fan, I want all the money back I've spent on tickets, parking, food and merchandise. I want to be reimbursed for the airfare, hotel rooms and meals I spent going to see the Ducks play on the road. I want my cut of any money made from the free promotion the league and it's players are receiving from sites like Anaheim Calling and the rest of the SBNation NHL group.

Don't I deserve to receive some of the billions of dollars in revenue generated since I am part of the reason there is revenue in the first place?

I want to be "made whole" for the hours I've spent writing for this blog out of pure passion for the team and the sport. I am in Anaheim for crap sake! Until the Ducks won the Stanley Cup, we only kind of existed to people in Orange County and the NHL. We have, well, had, a growing fan base. It took Anaheim eight years between CBA's to rebrand and reintroduce the team to the community and finally see some measurable success. (Now only 25% of OC residents still refer to the team as the 'Mighty Ducks'!) All that hard work - and money - lost because the casual fans, from who the team makes it's real money, have moved on.

The one reason pretty much anyone watches the Ducks play anymore, Teemu Selanne, is skating one stride closer to retirement. I took pictures at the final home game of the prior season, with tears in my eyes, thinking this could be the last time I saw the future HoF'er because he would call it a career on HIS terms. You can imagine how pleased I was to see he was coming back only to be crushed by his revelation that he really might be done if there is no season. What about his little buddy, Saku Koivu? The man beats cancer to continue to play hockey and will have it all end because of Bettman's and Fehr's gigantic egos?

Since agreeing isn't something you two do well, I'll help out. Both of you can repay me for everything as a 50/50 split. No escrow, no interest, no sliding scale. This is just a thousand-aire (me) helping out the financially strapped millionaires (the players) and billionaires (the owners).

Like the last lockout, I will come back. I will continue to write. I will need to take a Xanax every time I think about Bob Murray negotiating with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. I should be rewarded for my loyalty and not embarrassed for being a hockey fan.

In closing, to quote the great philosopher Henry Hill, "F$CK YOU. PAY ME."

XOXO,

Jen Neale
Loyal Idiot Fan

********

CHRIS:

This lockout is a naturally emotional issue. I don't blame anyone for being pissed off at Gary Bettman, or Don Fehr or the owners/players in general, but for me the overriding emotion has not been anger. It's worry.

Sure, I've been frustrated that both sides have put posturing and PR spin above a sincere desire to get a deal done. Bettman's "two week moratorium" on negotiations was about as infuriating as it gets.

To me, it seems that any lockout should be accompanied by a "lock-in." As soon as games started being cancelled, the PA and League officials should not have been allowed to leave the negotiating room for more than an hour at a time until a new they've come to an agreement.

From a Ducks fan perspective the most angry that I've been is when receiving emails from the team inviting season ticket holders to a free skate at Honda Center on Black Friday. If that isn't a direct slap in the face of your core fan base I don't know what is.

The Black Friday game against Chicago (usually) is one of the few young traditions that the franchise has. I couldn't tell you much about the Ducks' 2012-13 schedule, except that the season was supposed to start on Oct. 11 and they were supposed to play Chicago on Nov. 23.

Getting an email saying "We know you would rather be watching some of the best players in the world play hockey right now, but since we're not allowing you to do that, why don't you go down there and have a go yourself? You could get your picture taken with Wild Wing!" is such an insult, I'm having trouble putting it into words.

But more importantly, I'm concerned for the future of the franchise. Again, I'm not happy that every day this drags on we're getting closer and closer to seeing the end of Teemu Selanne's career, but we've been able to see the light at the end of that tunnel for a looooooooong time now.

As the NHL continues to cancel games I become increasingly paranoid that we've also seen the last of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in Ducks sweaters. Whether games are played in 2012-13 or not, Perry and Getzlaf will be unrestricted free agents on July 1.

There is no way that Bob Murray is going to shell out a Parise/Suter-esque deal for Perry and Getzlaf. It's completely backwards logic, but we've seen it before with Francois Beauchemin - Murray's cardinal sin as Ducks' GM.

I'm afraid that since Perry and Getzlaf didn't scramble to get a contract under what is likely to be a CBA that is more player friendly than the impending one, they've already decided to leave. In that case, the only hope to keep them would be if the owners got some draconian restrictions placed on UFA contracts that would set a harsh limit on what cap circumventing teams like Philly, Vancouver, Chicago or the Rangers could offer, therefore bringing the Ducks back into the discussion. I didn't include their most likely destination - Toronto - because Brian Burke isn't exactly a cap circumventor, but drastic regulations on UFAs could also restrict a team with endless resources from taking Perry and Getzlaf as well.

Of course this is all paranoia and speculation, but the mere concept of losing three of our four best forwards, who all happen to be in the top five point producers in FRANCHISE HISTORY, due to the lockout is endlessly frightening, especially when all we can do is watch the struggles our Ducklings are having right now in Norfolk.
The present may be dark, but the future in Anaheim isn't much brighter.

********

KRISTEN:

My editor, Jen, pitched this assignment as a Festivus-style ‘Airing of Grievances,' and my two grievances are as follows: the lockout has produced a ton of frustrating, unanswered questions, and neither side (the NHL or the PA) appears to be negotiating in good faith.

As a Ducks fan, the most frustrating of these questions affect my team directly: Will we never see Teemu Selanne play another shift in the league? Will the lockout complicate contract negotiations with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry? Their bargain contracts are set to expire at the end of what would've been/still could be the 2012-13 season, and there is a concern that Perry, especially, could be lost to free agency [insert Justin Schultz flashback here]. Will last season's breakout players - like Nick Bonino - be able to maintain their momentum once play resumes? And how the lockout is affecting the development of our Ducklings, namely Hampus Lindholm, Emerson Etem, and Devante Smith-Pelly?

And regarding good faith: if Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr were both truly invested in negotiating a CBA, we would have a season by now. Instead, there has been a lot of posturing, and even the players have lost my sympathy at this point. I hope that Bettman and Fehr think of the many employees who are out of work every time they begin another round of negotiations.

And to whomever is reading this: take note of the name Chris Wagner. You will know exactly who he is very soon.

********

SK:

I don't even know where to start when it comes to how I feel about this lockout. I know there was a big part of me that didn't expect it to actually happen. Remember, I'm the toddler of the bunch. This is my first NHL lockout. It blows - no question. And don't get me started on the fact that we can rank our positions by the number of lockouts we've experienced. HOW RIDICULOUS IS THAT?!

I feel really bad for the rest of you who have experienced more than one, because this is the firey pits of hell and I want out!

That being said, I don't know what to do, litterally. I'm lost and I'm confused (as all hell) about what most of this even means. "Make it whole" don't "make it whole"? HRR? Player contracts?

Here's what I do know right now and it scares me. I was walking through the parking lot at Home Depot today and I saw an Angels Baseball license plate frame. My first thought was, "I'm looking forward to March."

Woah!!!! BASEBALL - how the hell did you creep into my head?! (I blame the best friend for that one. However, I also thank her for enjoying the Notre Dame 12-0 season - she's the biggest fan I know.)

Yes, NHL lockout, you have confused me, pissed me off, and have me so far off the beaten path that I'm looking to BASEBALL to get me back on the sports track. OH...MY...!!!!!!

What has angered me the most about all of this is the amount of time wasted. The stubborn, "I don't want to eat my veggies" attitude that both sides are utilizing. What is taking so long?! Better yet...WHY WEREN'T YOU TALKING BEFORE IT GOT THIS BAD?!

What took so long to start these negotiations? Why didn't this pick up steam sooner? Hell, WHEN will it pick up steam?!

I keep hoping that one day my Twitter account is going to break because of the influx of celebrating tweets regarding the end of the lockout.

In the meantime...is it March yet? UGH!

********

Festivus is a tradition that cannot be kept a secret. Check out the SBNation NHL hub for others airing their lockout grievances.

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