I miss hockey. I miss Hockey Night in Canada (a tradition since my childhood). I miss the banter in the office every Monday morning on the weekend’s games. It seems as if the current NHL lockout, now 90+ days old and going strong, has turned this coming winter into a rather dull one up here in Canada.
For those residing in the United States, Canada’s love affair with hockey might seem rather incomprehensible. So, permit me to explain: Up through the 1960’s professional sport in Canada meant hockey. Baseball’s short lived Montreal expos came into being in 1969 until the franchise moved to Washington DC in 2004, and the somewhat-more-successful Toronto Blue Jays broke into the league in 1977. Basketball saw a short-lived Vancouver Grizzlies from 1995 – 2001, leaving the Toronto Raptors to be the sole representative in Canada. Canada’s Canadian football (the CFL) has some ardent supporters, but the entire league is not really up-to the same standard of the NFL. This makes hockey, for Canada, the only game in town.
While I bemoan the loss of a much beloved pastime, I’ll easily get over it. But the fact is that professional sport is more than just the owners, players, sportscaster, advertisers and arenas. For the hospitality industry, the assumed loss of the season has already impacted restaurants and lodging institutions located within the proximity of arenas. On a broader scale, our newspapers reported only a modest decline in beverage sales; pubs/bars seem to have moved to supporting other sports and patrons resigned to the new order.
So, what of the strike: millionaire players arguing with billionaire owners. Who really cares? In the grand scheme of things, this entire charade is trivial. The only winners are the lawyers for both sides, who in prolonging this disagreement, stand to make even more in fees.
What is the learning from this? Disputes should never get to the point of a strike. At that point, everyone loses.
And for my beloved Montreal Canadiens, consider this another year to wait for the Stanley Cup to return.
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on December 11, 2012)