Attention NHL and NHLPA and everyone you represent: I come to you today with a solution to the current impasse in labor negotiations that threatens to rob us, yet again, of an NHL season of any kind.
The money you're seeking? Just go ahead and take it directly from us, the fans.
(picks up loaded t-shirt launcher gizmo and turns it toward the angry mob behind him) Back off! All of you! I'm doing what needs to be done, what should have been done long ago and what has always been inevitable. So unless you want a hole shaped like a poorly manufactured undergarment with an obnoxious corporate logo on it in your chest, I suggest you back off and let me say my piece.
(turns and addresses owners and players again) Because what you guys are fighting over is revenue, right? Revenue. I believe that's a French word meaning "money that doesn't belong to you yet". It's money you hope to get, expect to get, maybe even feel entitled to get, but it isn't actually yours yet, is it? If not, whose money is it? It's ours, those dollar signs with feet you see when you look around your packed arenas. Whether you get it from us directly in the form of ticket sales or merchandise purchases, or indirectly by way of the stuff we buy that's advertised on television during your games, it starts out in our pockets before it ends up in yours.
So you need more moolah? Go ahead, take it. How much? I don't even know what the number that you're fighting over is. Is it a billion dollars? Is that what you need to settle this? Fine. We don't care. Find a relatively untapped vein and drill, baby, drill. I don't know where it will come from. We'll figure that out later. Because all we want out of this is The Game. We love The Game, always have and always will.
You know how you guys say you love The Game? It's a lot like that, except when we say it, we mean it. Because ultimately you guys will come and go, but we will always be here. Until we die off, anyway. More about that later.
Do you guys have any idea how little it takes to make us happy? I'm sure some of the players are talking to themselves right now. "Yeah, but we have to sign autographs and do interviews and go see sick kids in the hospital. Ugh." The truth is we really don't care that much about that stuff. We just want The Game and we'll do practically anything for it. You know that, though, don't you? Of course you do. That's why these things happen the way they do.
You're trading on our loyalty and dedication, which is what really hurts. You do this kind of thing to us and we come back. Which is why you do it to us; simply because you know you can. You use the attributes that make us the best fans in sports and you use them as weapons against each other, yet we're the ones getting hurt. Still, we come back. Sure, lots of us say we're fed up and we give up, and in some cases, that will be the truth. But you know enough of us will give in and come back, even though you, the guardians of The Game we love, seem determined to destroy it.
As much as that hurts us, you're not doing yourselves any favors either, you know. Do you ever stop to think about what goes on in the head of the 16-year-olds out here? They were eight the last time this happened, an age when kids are just starting to figure out what they like. In two years, they will enter the solid gold 18-49 demographic that advertisers value so highly. How in the name of common sense could you let that happen?
Those of us old enough to know better didn't. We have ourselves to blame for that, I guess. We said, "surely, they won't let it happen again. If nothing else, they must have learned from the last time that they simply can't do it again."
Yet, to our dismay and amazement, here we are.Sure, we're chumps but we aren't going to live forever. If you guys had produced "The Planet of the Apes", it would have ended with Charlton Heston getting back on his horse, turning around and muttering, "I'd better go teach those damn, dirty apes a thing or two about Oppenheimer".
Anyway, I stopped talking about money a while ago, which undoubtedly means you're tuning out. My point is, go ahead, already. Take what you want. Take it and go. Just give us The Game. Watching you fight over our money while it's still in our pockets while being denied the one thing we really want from you is like being stuck in a dark alley while a crackhead and a meth addict argue over who gets to mug you as you're hoping they'll let you keep your drivers license.