The National Hockey League (NHL) returned to the ice last Saturday (Jan. 19) after a lengthy three-month lockout and contract dispute between the players and owners.
The season, now 48 games instead of 82, was shortened because the two sides could not come to an agreement on essentially how much money and what piece of the financial pie each side would get.
Depending on whom you ask, many have mixed feelings about the league’s return. Yes, many are happy their heroes have returned to the ice, as evidenced by the packed arenas around North America and the huge viewership numbers on CBC and NBC last Saturday, but many are not. They’re fed up that half a season was lost because millionaire owners were squabbling with millionaire players over millions of dollars.
Most of us can only dream of making the kind of money that players and owners are making. It’s quite sickening, isn’t it? What about all the hard-working arena workers, front office staff and hospitality workers who lost their pay cheques because of the lockout? How do they make up for that lost income?
And now that the players are back, some of the clubs, including the Vancouver Canucks, are still complaining — this time about their cushy travel.
The Vancouver Sun reported Jan. 21 that the Canucks, other Canadian teams and several U.S.-based teams that use Air Canada’s Jetz executive-class service for their road travel won’t be able to travel first class now because, during the lockout, the airline reconfigured five of six charter jets, converting them back into regular passenger service.
Give us a break. Can’t these players make do with regular passenger service? They have the whole plane to themselves and it’s not like they will be sitting next to a parent trying to calm a screaming baby. And they will get to stretch out on the plane in their own row, most likely. Stop the whining already, and just play hockey.
Have some of these players forgotten how privileged they are to play the game that they all love? They toiled for hours in backyard rinks when they were young, one day dreaming of playing in the pros. They are living out their dream and should be thankful for the opportunity.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Sunshine Coast Minor Hockey Association hosted a wonderful tribute to everything that is right about hockey when the Canucks Alumni squad came to town.
The community support was awesome with more than 800 fans on hand. Smiles lit up the rink from kids seeing their heroes take to the ice, some lucky enough to get a handshake and an autographed picture before the game.
The night honoured the association, its coaches and volunteers — and, most importantly, the young players, who also have dreams to some day maybe play in the pros.
The Alumni players gave back and showed that it’s not all about the money — it’s about playing the game they love and giving back.
The NHL could learn a thing or two from the fine example showed last Saturday night.