We’ve heard all of the arguments from the owners. We’ve heard all of the arguments from the players. They all point to one conclusion: Neither side truly cares about the fans. If they did, they would set egos aside and get a deal done. But they don’t, so we sit and wait while they cancel November and the Winter Classic.
But the emotions let out by the fans, those are the ones that are changing.
When the lockout began, fans were angry. When October was canceled, the fans were angry. When November was canceled, the fans were really angry. The sides aren’t that far off, and it is clear that egos have gotten in the way of true business decisions. Neither side wants to lose, but in collective bargaining, neither side ever wins. Both sides know the obvious deal to be had, but neither wants to put it on the table.
And now the Winter Classic is gone. But also gone are the angry tweets. Also gone are the angry responses. Also gone are the petitions. Also gone are the angry blog posts. Also gone is the trust. What remains is apathy.
I tweeted a pretty long rant yesterday when the Winter Classic cancellation went public. It was the natural response. But the more time I take, the more I realize that I don’t really care all that much. It’s different for me than it is for Chris, who plans trips to the US for hockey.There is still hockey on TV, and I can stream games from my laptop.
I’m not buying tickets, I’m not buying merchandise. I’m not spending money at Harringtons or The Flying Puck (well, not as much as I used to). Instead, I am able to take my girlfriend out. I am able to buy myself a new iMac. I am able to save a little more money.
It appears I am not alone in this thinking. I have received countless tweets in my @ mentions, and it’s funny how the emotions expressed changed over the course of a month. In September and early October, it was all anger. In late October, it was extreme anger. Right now, it’s all apathy. It’s all summed up by one tweet from @dkatzism:
@BlueSeatBlogs: Here’s the problem, Dave. Too many people just don’t give a [poop] at this point. And that’s hardcore fans I’m talking about.
It’s that last bit which I find intriguing. Hardcore fans, the ones that the league is counting on coming back, don’t care anymore. The corporate fans will return for business purposes. The fair-weather fans will return when their clubs begin to win. You will have some hardcore fans that come back, but there’s a good portion that are too smart to come back. There’s a good portion that realize when we are being used and disrespected. That portion of the fans is growing. That portion of fans just doesn’t care about the NHL or its players anymore.
Will those fans eventually come back? Absolutely, but it’s not going to be instantaneous. It’s comparable to the best friend who sleeps with your ex. He/she did something stupid and destroyed the trust factor. However, try as you might, you won’t hate them forever. Eventually the trust rebuilds itself. That process takes a while.
As for me? Well I have Optimum, so MSG and MSG HD are free. I will continue to watch my Rangers. NBC and NBC Sports are free, so I will continue to watch national games. The blog operates at a break-even point, so I will continue to blog. I will not purchase tickets. I will not purchase merchandise. I will not purchase NHL ’14. I will not purchase NHL Center Ice. I will not spend a cent of my own money on the NHL or its players.
I have become apathetic.