2012 NHL lockout Sapping morale

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

The best way tod iscribe fans continuing displeasure is to site the fact the ongoing labor strife has rid the NHL fanbase of any positive morale.

Morale is low.

Is there any other way to describe the sentiment that we all feel when it comes to NHL hockey right now? We - fans, writers such as myself, media type persons - toss around words like apathy, indolence, aggravation, anger, with synonyms, metaphors and what not tossed around to generally express disappointment tied to the ongoing 2012 NHL lockout.

Generally, it really reflects morale, and how it's been decimated by the ongoing work stoppage for the hockey fans and those whose livelihood is tied to the National Hockey League.

You're at the point where don't care, or flat out pissed off, or you're ignoring this whole farce until games start up again, and most of all you're upset that it's dragged on like this... And still the NHL and the NHLPA keep doing their elaborate dance - the posturing polka, the spinmeister shuffle, the rhetorical rumba, and gangram greed style ....

And to be frank, we're all friggin' tired of watching this dance.

In 2004-05, I watched and wrote about the tortured dance, when Gary Bettman and his merry band of owners cried poverty and the need for "cost certainty" (read: salary cap) while then-NHLPA head Bob Goodenow roared his displeasure and sat on his hands to avoid negotiations all together. The economics of 2004 for the NHL put sympathy's sentiment with the owners. If the NHL was going to survive and - dare it be suggested - thrive, changes would have to be made and players would have to sacrifice in order for that to happen. It was for the greater good of the game. Or so it was sold to us as such.

Over the last few years since the debacle of 2004-05's cancelation, revenues have gone up-up-up with Bettman boasting about the business strength of the game, growth of the game, prosperity of the league... Only to suddenly turn around and cry poverty for ownership again, with thanks to the mistakes and flaws that have been exposed and exploited from the 2005 collective bargaining agreement over the last 7 years.

It's a rehash for me to say this, but ownership wants the players to pay for the economic mess that owners themselves created. Bettman has represented a harsh, hard-line stance by ownership regarding player contracting rights, salaries, and revenues. A harsh position that ownership has barely budged off of, despite Bettman's own claims on the contrary.

And, in rehashing, I'm further beating down my own morale. How can you get excited about the NHL when you know this mess is likely to come up again in a scant few years with thanks to the flaws that will likely be discovered and then exploited by ownership in the next CBA (whenever that is ratified - in the coming weeks, months, or a year from now)?

It's not just me; it's wide across SB Nation and the greater hockey blogosphere: How are you supposed to be enthused watching this train wreck that is Bettman (representing ownership) versus Donald M. Fehr (representing the players)?

How can you think a settlement is on the verge of being found when those representing the league attack Fehr because he's (gasp!) not a "hockey person" but a versed union representative with baseball ties who is trying to make sure his clients don't get screwed? Or while the players do the name-calling thing with Commissioner Bettman instead of acting like adults and avoiding the fact that, in many cases, it's their own team's owner that is pushing for the grand player concessions?

My morale is low, as a writer and a fan, looking at this farce and seeing the 2012 United States elections play out again. There is rhetoric and misinformation coming from all sides, depending on who you ask and who gets the preferable sound bites broadcast through media channels (traditional and social). Heck, you can name certain avenues that are partisan to the owners and the players, just as you do with political parties. But worse, there is ideology at play here that is directly from American politics. Subtext to some of the issues that played out over the past few months..;. Stuff I don't want to get into here.

And I was done with the election on November 6th, thank you. I don't want to be inundated with more of this crap.

So I feel beaten down by the ongoing lockout. Whereas fans are looking specifically for games, I'm looking for both games and the stories that would come attached to them. The drama and feats of sports can be as thrilling as the numbers (player accomplishments and the more advanced numbers like CORSI that I'm not really into). There's a story to tell or prepare people with for every game, it's a part of that grand process of becoming. The story of the season.

Without a season, there's nothing. Even with the Syracuse Crunch and AHL to talk about, with a tomorrowseason always on the horizon, there is still this feeling as there's nothing to write about. I'm a Tampa Bay Lightning blogger/fan, Vincent Lecavalier is my captain while Guy Boucher is my coach...whom are both idle, along with the majority of their team and coaching staff. This depresses me, just like it probably depresses you - if not for the Lightning than for your own favorite NHL team.

The morale of the NHL masses - the fans, the employees, the writers, and all the little people -- is low... We're beaten down by the rhetoric of the central figures to this farce that we're exposed to, who only continue standing up for the nonsense or go about making up their own nonsense in order to spin the blame for this public relations disaster for the league and sport.

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