Is It Time for an “Occupy NHL” Movement?

An empty hockey rink…something we may be seeing this fall if an agreement cannot be reached soon.

I was not the biggest fan of the recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement, because to me, it was more about lazy people and entitlement than actually working to end corporate greed and unemployment. That said, to not shoot myself in the foot here, that is a generalization based on my own observations. I thought the movement was ridiculous in the sense that nothing anybody could say or do would change how the government operates. The movement was too broad with nothing specific to focus on. Much like the “Tea Party” movement, it started out with a common goal before branching to include many different things, thus lowering its effectiveness. However, if you were to apply the same type of movement to something on a smaller scale, such as an impending National Hockey League lockout, where all fans are united on the same purpose (unless there are fans out there who actually do want another season of hockey lost), then could it work? If a large group of protesting fans, wearing jerseys of all kinds stood outside the league office with signs and showed that they will not tolerate a loss of hockey, would it captivate any of the parties to sit down and try to work this out in a timely manner? I will not get into the specifics of what is being argued, because that would be fruitless and irrelevant—in the end, there is only one thing a fan cares about, and that is being able to watch his or her favorite team and not have to worry if there will be no sound of blades digging into the ice come September and October.

Call it posturing or call it an ultimatum, but Gary Bettman has set a deadline of September 15 for an agreement to be reached, otherwise, there will be a lockout. Though there is still plenty of time, it brought back a lot of miserable memories for long-time fans of the sport, who cringe with every thought of the lost 2004/05 season. Fans are what drive this sport, and one can argue that hockey has the most loyal of any other, because they have stuck with the sport through two lockouts in ten years, and now with a third on the horizon, they are not going to jump ship, not just yet. For such important people, I still have not once heard any league official mention the word “fan”, as I wrote about several weeks ago—the situation has gone unchanged. We can sit around and complain all we want, but will it matter? Everyone from the players right on up to the commissioner always says at some point during a season that “it’s all about the fans”. Do they mean it? If no agreement is reached in 32 days, then I think we will know the answer to that question.

So maybe it is about time that fans did something besides write sneering remarks on blogs and message boards and wax depressing to one another. I’ll ask it again: would an “Occupy NHL” movement work? It surely would not be as big as other demonstrations, but maybe a nice, organized protest with a singular goal outside of the league office will get some recognition. We are not demanding anyone be fired. We are not demanding anything ludicrous. We are not demanding anything except to get it done. Do whatever it takes so that no games will be lost, and certainly not a whole season. I think they owe us that much.

Like what you read here? Start an #OCCUPYNHL movement on Twitter and see how far it can go.


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