Today NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced all of Novembers games would be wiped out, here’s why:

10:  The regular referees are all working elsewhere now and the only ones available are the ones the NFL had filling in,

9: Games aren’t going to be resumed until the last Rick Nash jersey in Columbus is sold.

8: This isn’t really a lockout, Shanahan put the season on the shelf for a phantom clipping call.

7: With Tuukka Rask injured (again) Jeremy Jacobs won’t allow the season to progress until he has another goalie.

6: Francesco Aquilini finally looked at Roberto Luongo’s contract and said not another game will be played until the dude is gone.

5: Holiday shopping will be a lot easier for Bettman and league ownership if they don’t have to show up for one game a month and be booed.

4: Novembers games were cancelled in retaliation for #ThePlayers offer to appoint Sean Avery their official full time liaison to Mr Bettman.

3: The real reason games were cancelled is NHL broadcasters still can’t tell Jordan and Eric Staal apart and are hoping one goes to pot before the season starts.

2: The owners are waiting for the roofies to kick in on the players.

1: Gary Bettman is still trying to figure out how to explain to his daughter why an industry that has experienced record growth over the last several years in a recession, has a new lucrative tv deal, has had several teams settle their ownership and arena issues, signed overseas content distribution deals, and is drafting players from places professional hockey didn’t exist twenty years ago can justify a lockout even to itself.

This lockout is a farce. There are two reasons for this. Collectively, you’d be hard pressed to find 30 worse businessmen who somehow remain mega rich is the first. The second is that for these folks the world is not enough. As a whole the league has grown its revenue hand over fist for the last seven years. Some teams are struggling now that were struggling the last time there was a lockout. Mostly these are the teams in non traditional markets who have never been run well enough to win. In the last twenty years the Owners have taken each CBA expiration as a  licence to kill the PA.

Was there cause? Yes. Last time the league was loosing money even in markets like Pittsburgh where however ignorant the fans are, they will at least show up if there is a good product on the ice. This time? Please. Just please. In a seven year stretch in which the American economy took such a nose dive that not only did the housing market die, but unemployment hit 20%+ in some major hockey markets. NHL revenues grew anyway. Record setting growth.

The ownership collective seems to have a mentality of get richer, and for everyone else; live and let die. All the businesses in the arena district are suffering because the team owners can only think of how diamonds are forever. Looking at the NHL owners I have to wonder where there Bob Kraft is in this group. Who’s the man who will stand up and say ‘we have too much to lose”, rally both sides and throw a thunderball at the people keeping games from being played?

The last lockout almost killed the league. Even teams like Boston struggled with attendance coming out of it. The faith in the ever returning fan is baseless. Fans walked away forever and it took years for new ones to arrive. Part of this was the revival of original six teams and big market teams like Boston, Chicago, and New York, another part was the emergence of stars like Shea Weber on a team that had to fight their way to relevance in market with strong football, and basketball at all levels. The owners didn’t dodge a bullet, last time, they lost a lot of money. The league died and you only live twice.

One of the other factors that has to be considered this time around that didn’t have nearly the impact seven years ago is the KHL. The league has had nearly a decade to get its feet under it. More and more Russian and European players go to or stay in that league. At the casino royale that is the negotiating table the Owners have traditionally held the “highest level of competition” card. How much longer until that is no longer true and the heart of the hockey world waves to all of us in north america from Russia with love?

At this point fan support is squarely in the players corner. Every time the owners, or Gary Bettman is mentioned all fans see and hear is the man with the golden gun weeping about poverty. Could this change? Sure it is possible, and not much less likely than skyfall, but the owners need to be smarter than that, they need to react before the lack of the game beats the living daylights out of the love of the game.

For this site to be enjoyable for as many readers as possible I try to separate PuckSage the fan from PuckSage the writer.  I cover the teams, I pay attention to what the players are doing in the arena and on the ice. But rarely do I write a post purely as a fan. Today is that exception.

I have half a dozen jerseys. I love them. I wear them year round. With the season’s scheduled start less than two weeks away I’m getting ready to do something I haven’t done in years; go an entire winter without wearing any NHL gear. Will the NHL miss the advertising? No. Will Bettman, Pegula, or anyone else miss it? Also no. But, wearing a jersey is about two things for fans. The first is admiration for the player and or team. The second is saying in this team, this league supports their fanbase. 

A league that locks out the fans twice every decade isn’t supporting the fans. I won’t support the NHL until games are being played.If games are lost, the NHL become just as unsupportable by me as those who sheltered Jerry Sandusky. I also won’t buy AHL jerseys, several of those teams are owned by their NHL affiliates, or share a very similar name and logo.

This doesn’t mean I won’t support hockey, or hockey leagues, or hockey players. But the NHL will get exactly zero dollars and zero cents in my money or advertising space.  Effective today, I’m on the hunt for at least one jersey from a junior, college, or other pro-league jersey.  Everyone from the Belfast Giants to the Frolunda Indians, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, London Knights,  Dayton Areos, Portland Junior Pirates, Moose Jaw Warriors, Acadie-Bathurst Titans or any other. Suggestions welcome, free jerseyies loved, treasured and worn often.