What happened to, "For the Love of the Game"?
by Brandon Smith
Could you picture Alex Ovechkin on a construction site moving wheelbarrows of gravel? Or the Sedin twins mopping the floors of a TD Bank? Of course not. In the eyes of a fan these guys are superheroes and we just want our game back. But the game was never gone. I had the opportunity to attend a couple Abbotsford Heat games during the lock-out and those boys play with just as much and sometimes more intensity than our NHL'ers.
Nowadays you have players holding back so they can piss off their coaches enough to trade them to a team they would prefer playing for, or a city they would prefer to live in. Which is exactly my point. We the fans, are turning these guys into spoiled brats.
What would happen if the fans locked the NHL out, and all of a sudden there was no revenue from television ratings, or merchandise and ticket sales? Would all the players get regular jobs? Go back to school? Or more likely, would they be willing to take a reduction in pay which may even give the NHL more opportunity to put money back in to the community once we return as loyal fans, having given them all a taste of reality?
I played ice hockey growing up and have been a fan of the Canucks and the NHL since the age of 7. I've seen the changes between then and now, and now, it seems instead of dreaming about scoring the game winner, top corner on a breakaway with the seconds ticking down in game 7, all these guys dream about is how big of a house they'll get to live in. Or how many cars they keep in the driveway of their big homes. Or where their wives would prefer to live. Or what products they can endorse.
Although I may sound jaded, I assure you I still have all the respect in the world for our professional athletes. It's extremely physically and mentally challenging when you're competing at the level that these guys compete at. I would just hate for the fans to lose the NHL because the players and owners couldn't work out their differences while keeping "The Love of the Game" in mind at the same time.