Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

September 16, 2012

HOPKINS: NHL takes us for chumps ... again

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — This column had to be completed Saturday afternoon, but unless there was a last-minute miracle, we are now a few hours into the latest National Hockey League lockout.

Hockey fans will sit at home and grumble until this latest “labor strife” is settled then, like lemmings being led to the slaughter, we’ll all rush back to our seats or tune in to Hockey Night in Canada and welcome them back. We’ll even open up our wallets and throw more money at them for officially licensed jerseys, the Center Ice TV package, T-shirts, jackets, Christmas ornaments, earrings and whatever else on which the merchandisers decide to slap on a logo or player’s name.

Until then, we sit at home while the players and owners get updates on negotiations between rounds of golf.

At issue is how millionaire owners and millionaire players are going to share the billions of dollars forked over by ordinary folks like you and me to support the owners’ bottom lines and the players’ retirements before most of them turn 40.

Sure, there are other issues such as when a player may become an unrestricted free agent, but realistically it all boils down to one of the seven deadly sins: Greed. These are millionaires — on both sides, except in Phoenix, of course — who’ve gotten rich off a game and who are again bickering over how to split our hard-earned discretionary income.

We lost the entire 2004-05 season with the previous lockout, one in which fans seemed to support the owners who claimed teams couldn’t survive with the business plan.

The players caved to owners’ demands and now, seven seasons later, the sport is booming financially. Most teams appear to be making money, the players are rich despite the (ever skyrocketing) “salary cap” they opposed and we keep paying more for season tickets. There’s also the incredible sums paid for individual “premium” game tickets that cost an average family of four half a week’s salary, or two seconds of playing time for your average fourth-line player.

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