This NHL offseason is simply more unique than any others I've experienced since I've began blogging about the Philadelphia Flyers. It's even trumped that of a year ago when Flyers GM Paul Holmgren shocked the hockey planet by trading its captain and arguably greatest offensive threat for the sake of strengthening the depth and potential of our beloved Club.
My recent experiences reporting the ongoing CBA negotiations have been both satisfying and a tad disappointing. I don't aim to crack the latest breaking Flyers and/or NHL news in hopes I've been one of the firsts to do so. If that opportunity has risen and been accomplished once or twice in the past, then that is no more than a unique coincidence and an appropriation to my work. I do not obtain, nor claim to be an inside source of Flyers information.
So why do I write?
To answer that question, I must first ask myself why I'm a fan of hockey to begin with. On the surface, this question is easily answerable; The snarl, the speed of the game, the emotion I witness on the ice which I absorb from my seat. The list goes on for pages. It's an infectious addiction turned into a religion, not just for those who play the sport, but also the fan at home, in front of the television, in his/her team's jersey. The same goes for me.
I'm a man with strong opinions. Whether or not they're shared among my fellow fans remains to be seen until every notion of mine is voiced. Sometimes it's shared by the majority who've heard it, and sometimes people believe I could not be furthest from reality. Regardless the outcome, I will never stop having an opinion. Or sharing it, for that matter.
As a diehard Flyers fan with an incredible motivation and interest to speak his mind, I take to this blog weekly to publish my thoughts into words. How ever many IP hits my posts get is never the biggest concern, believe me. Watching hockey, reading about hockey and writing about hockey is my therapy. It's like music to the savage beast. It's my zen.
Which brings me back to the topic of the NHL's labor negotiations.
Being a diehard fan of hockey to me means not only watching and rooting for the Flyers every waking second of my life, but it also means wanting to learn EVERYTHING there is to know about the inner workings of this League. That includes its economics, its politics, and all the ethical codes (written or unwritten) that fuse together this world of unbelievable competition. And right now, that utopia of mine is threatened by another lockout.
This reality frightens me deeper than it naturally should. My assumption prior to the beginning of these labor meetings was that each and every diehard NHL fan out there felt the same way. When something so important to us has its neck in the noose and we (the fans) have no control over the foot that's about to kick the chair out from underneath, it grabs my anxious attention like a moth to a street lamp.
As I dug deeper and deeper for more information regarding reasons why this League is heading towards another work stoppage, I realized my journey was not populated as heavily as I once thought it would be. Here I was soaking in immeasurable amounts of knowledge, attempting my best to convert it into my words and opinions so that I can continue writing and publishing. As I mentioned before, the amount of reads my articles get have never been what's most important to me, but in this case....it's completely different. I noticed with each piece of information I shared --regarding the updates of the labor meetings--the feedback has been virtually non-existent.
I know that it's not because fans don't care. I know they care. I am 100% positive that the last thing NHL fans want is another lockout. What I'm not positive about is how many of us truly feel the need to want to understand what's going on behind those closed doors.
It's like, I get the impression that a lot of fans out there want to stick their heads in the sand and forget that there are some extremely complicated guts to these negotiations.
"As long as they come to an agreement and I get my hockey in October, I don't care what goes on at the meetings."
Really!? I apologize, but I cannot fathom how anyone with that mentality can call themselves a diehard fan of their NHL team. It's like someone having a strong political opinion which they insist on shoving down your throat, and they have no basis of political knowledge to even deliver it in the first place.
What's going on in those CBA meetings not only affect the players, the owners, and the suits in Toronto. They mainly affect each of you, the fan. Whether or not it's officially stated anywhere on a legal document, make no mistake -- each of you is a shareholder in this conglomerate of passion, heart and soul. It's not just our money we give to course the lifeblood through the NHL's veins....it's the way we express our love and need for the game of hockey that keeps the NHL's heart beating.
Maybe I'm just missing something. Perhaps it's a question of my exposure to the demographic -- there's not enough of it. But there is no denying that I've received more feedback (observations, as well as criticisms) from --shall I say-- traditionally more popular discussion topics. I won't pretend to think a subject like the Collective Bargaining negotiations carries as much dramatic gravitational pull as some of my past emotional pieces.
I'm not naive.
Though to tell you the truth, I expected more to follow this summer's legal symphony than I've been seeing. The reason being because it could potentially spell the doom & gloom of the sport we hold closest to us. But I've discovered that an unsettling amount of people would rather ignore the mathematics, the business and politics presently going on to rebuild the NHL's foundation....and focus on how Paul Holmgren can go out and score Bobby Ryan -- a move which would force us to mortgage more talent than we'd be gaining in return. But why even bother applying yourself to learn why that's a bad move?
"He scores a lot! We need him!"
It's baffling, really.
This isn't about how many Likes our Facebook page has, or how many followers on Twitter we get, or how many views my CBA articles have conquered. I'm not in it for the popularity contests.
I'm in it to share the experience and opinions with others who feel as passionately about the sport, and worry as much about this 2012-13 season as I do. Just because I write and publish an article doesn't mean people will read it. I get that. But (for example) not wanting to understand revenue sharing --which happens to be the biggest puzzle piece in the CBA proposals-- to its full potential leaves fans like me wondering why others even care to cheer for the Orange & Black in the first place.
I am not calling out any one person. In fact, there wasn't anything that happened today to motivate my writing this article. It's been a collection of things over the passing weeks, but I'm sure it's because I worry more than the average person out there.
From all my readings, many professional insiders (most of which requested to remain anonymous) have been quoted in publications saying another lockout is inevitable. It cannot possibly be avoided, and there's no chance the NHL and NHLPA will come to an agreement prior to September 15.
These are apparently the words of men who know what the hell they're talking about. And it scares the living shit out of me. This has forced me to search for resolutions while matriculating data in efforts to comprehend all there is to know, so that I know what the hell is going on and I can formulate an educated opinion. What pisses me off are those who share their thoughts and strong opinions but had never done any research to understand why they feel the way they do.
THAT is the fuel that's driven me to this blog today.
Knowledge is power....
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