Asking fans to boycott the NHL is unreasonable

Today starts with an admission: in August I assigned some blame to fans for the NHL’s continued use of the lockout as a negotiating tactic.

But while I illustrated the possible downside of passion for the NHL brand, I certainly don’t see apathy for the product as a viable way to prevent future work stoppages.

And although I understand the sentiment behind Cam Cole’s recent column in the Vancouver Sun, I just don’t think it’s reasonable to expect people to actively avoid the NHL in order to send a message that may never get received.

Just think this one through. Cole and other well-intentioned folks in the media are asking for fans to ignore the NHL whenever its games do finally resume. The idea is that, if enough people willingly give up something that provides them a joyful diversion, the NHL might eschew a lockout in whenever the next collective bargaining agreement expires.

Jun 14, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings fans react during the the Los Angeles Kings victory celebration parade. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

I’m all for deferring immediate gratification, but a mass movement away from the world’s premier hockey league just isn’t going to happen. Personally, when the NHL re-opens its doors and gets back to business, I’m going to savor every moment of it.

I don’t have the will to execute a “fan holdout” because I love the game too much. As I wrote yesterday, I was introduced to hockey through the Penguins, and I’m going to unashamedly run back into the NHL’s arms because emotion overrides rationality in some cases.

Furthermore, even if I do convince thousands (or millions) of others to shun the NHL, there is no guarantee that it ever leads to any action by the owners and/or the office of the commissioner. The possible far-off benefit isn’t worth the sacrifice of harmless enjoyment.

None of us know how many days we have left on this planet, so you won’t find me calling fans gullible or comparing them to lemmings led off the cliff by Gary Bettman, NHL owners and the NHL Players’ Association. On the contrary, those parties are the ones who deserve to have displeasure thrown their way until this deal gets done.

I understand the point Mr. Cole and others are making, partially because I’ve made it myself on many occasions. I just don’t see it as anything beyond a theory to be argued. There is a reason some ideas never get beyond the hypothetical stage.

In the meantime, I kindly ask those with access to keep their focus on the principal characters in this labor dispute, not the fans. In fact, without the fans’ interest, there would be no need for paid NHL writers and broadcasters.

I somehow doubt any media members would be in favor of terminating their own gainful employment.

Topics: NHL Lockout, Pittsburgh Penguins

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