(Post Written By Josh Howard)
I know we've all been upset with Gary Bettman lately…. well forever. However, I don't think it is completely his fault for everything that's happening. He makes a convenient target, but the real problem lies with the owners and how they deal with the players. After hearing Bettman's comments today, I felt compelled to write him a letter. Yes, it's from a poor schmuck that didn't follow hockey quite as much during the last lockout. But, I think I speak for all of us when I say that we aren't as ignorant as he makes us seem. Well… read for yourselves and keep in mind that I'm trying to be civil. It takes a lot of balls to do what Gary Bettman does for a living.
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Dear Mr. Bettman,
If I could, I'd like to take a few moments of your time to discuss a few things I've picked up on lately. I am not writing to argue, yell, or get upset as some I'm sure will do. There is a time and place for that, but it isn't now and you aren't someone who deserves it.
Hit the jump for the rest of the letter and your thoughts:
First let me thank you for all that you do as league commissioner. It takes great strength to take stands that at times aren't popular. It also takes a lot of guts to present one of the best trophys in all professional sports when you know that you will be booed. You have a lot of strength and wit that seem to keep you going. However, that's not what I'm hear to talk about. As as fan of the NHL, I am concerned about that 'L' word… a lockout.
Having followed along on twitter, blogs, and news sites about the negotiations, I am very worried that things are not going well. I understand that there isn't a lot you can do about that except to try and help bring the sides together. There is one quote that you made that makes me question you. "We recovered last time bc we have the world's greatest fans." I would agree with this, however I thing it has more to do with the fans being forgiving. For one, I am very forgiving. But, two lockouts in such a short amount of time would be devastating to me. You see, it isn't the long term fan that this hurts… it's the casual fan or the small market fan in areas that are struggling. This whole situation does come down to money, but I definitely know hockey fans that aren't going to watch should the season be dramatically shortened.
Personally, I do not mind if the season is shortened. It would be advantageous to take the time to get a deal done that works for both sides. That leads me to my last point. The length is something that's tricky to determine as none of us has a crystal ball to see the future. With that said, I and my fellow fans would like to see the longest length deal possible. We don't want to go through this process again anytime soon any more than you do. It may sound odd, but we as fans DO feel like we're part of the process as it's our ticket sales and support that drives these teams and their brands.
Please sir, do not try to think us as ignorant when speaking about the NHL. I don't mind you saying we are the best fans, but it would be nice to hear that you guys don't want to hurt us with a lockout or shortened schedule. We can both agree that the best product on the ice fills seats no matter the cost. That doesn't mean I'm asking for you to suggest a change in the cap system… It simply means that this issue with fans isn't a money one. We've all seen what the lockout did to the NBA, NFL, and MLB leagues in past years and we do not want that to happen to us. There simply aren't enough of us to support excellent product if people start watching other leagues instead of the NHL.
I truly appreciate your time and effort. Thank you for reading this if you were able to get it.
Signed a truly passionate Detroit Red Wings fan/blogger/artist,
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So… do you agree with me? Am I being 'too nice'? I think we can all agree that the longer this thing goes… the worse it is for all of us. Discuss…