Messina: Thoughts on the NHL CBA and how the fans play into it

By: Chris Messina, Contributing Writer

While watching the National Hockey League and the Players Association duke it out in the board room recently, it dawned on me: the fans have all the power. They really do.

I’d have a hard time believing that the league would be scared of yet another lockout if they didn’t think the fans would come flocking back as they did after missing out the entire 2004-05 season.

There a gazillion other opinions on the ‘core issues’ of this pending working stoppage, but do the fans really care? I don’t think they do. At the end of the game they want to see their game.

Nobody is going to deter from going to a game or buying a jersey because of the way the revenue is shared or how the league breaks down its salary cap. At the end of the day if you’re a fan of the sport, you’re a fan of the sport and all you want is for the puck to drop on time in October.

The last lockout the league convinced the fans the game was better because the league missed a year. The product that would be put out on the ice was improved because there was a salary cap that would provide parity and obstruction would be eliminated from the game increasing offense.

Well there may be more parity because of the cap the game as a hole probably isn’t much better. Obstruction has somewhat crept back into the game, but most importantly there aren’t more goals being scored. Really at the end of the day, the fans don’t care how the money is broken up between the players and the owners. It will be debated until the ends of the earth on talk radio, tweeted about etc. but the way the money gets spread out isn’t going to stop anybody from supporting the game.

The NHL’s fans could have the power to lower the hammer on the league and its players, by not buying tickets and not rushing back once the league resumes play, but until that happens there really isn’t any pressure to get a deal done. Maybe that is the problem is the fans aren’t making a stand for what they believe in.

What fans want to see are the leagues storylines. Are the Edmonton Oilers ready to break out? Will Crosby bounce back from injury set-backs? Is this the year Ovechkin finally puts it all together? Will Jonathan Quick indeed be the leagues next great goalie?

That is the real shame in the way these negotiations are going, they aren’t urgent, both sides are taking their time making offers and counter offers. There just doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency to get the CBA hammered out before the 11th hour. Nobody cares about the suffering fans. All anybody involved with in these negotiations is the dollars and cents.

Don’t panic over whether or not the season will start on time, don’t. The people running the League aren’t.

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