I only lived in the United States for two years when I worked as assistant general manager of the New York Rangers. It was enough to get the sense of the enormity and "greatness" of American Thanksgiving. It's a celebration greater in depth than Christmas - non-denominational and mostly non-materialistic. Just get your butt home and enjoy.
Actually get your butt to your local licensed establishment upon arriving home even if that is the one and only time of the year you chose to go out and imbibe.
It also meant a great weekend of NHL hockey. Wednesday night featured a full slate of NHL action with capacity or near capacity crowds. Same for Friday afternoon and evening. Saturday more NHL hockey included the usual vintage doubleheader on Hockey Night in Canada.
I thought it would be fitting that Thanksgiving Wednesday would signal a true beginning of the end to the current NHL lockout with what seemed to be some genuine "give" by the players. A few hours later, it seemed like Black Wednesday for NHL fans as it appeared that the negotiations hadn't gone anywhere.
Gary Bettman softened that opinion somewhat while meeting the media afterwards
. He said they appreciated what had seemed to be a real move by the NHLPA, just not enough for the NHL's liking.
Lockout fodder from HNIC Radio
Many members of the media have said Gary Bettman appears angrier and more rattled than ever before.
I don't buy it. He is used to being booed even when he presents the Stanley Cup, and that's in markets where he's the guy responsible for bringing the team into the league. I don't think he is rattled at all. I thought he handled the heckling Philadelphia Flyer fan very well in the media scrum following Wednesday's meeting.
I find that the NHL players are passionate and united, but also all over the place in how they feel about where they are and the urgency for it to end. When Ron MacLean co-hosted HNIC Radio we talked to Donald Fehr and his mentor Marvin Miller, Major League Baseball Player's Association first executive director about the difficulty in keeping the players united. They talked about how Fehr brought in Miller to get baseball player's Paul Molitor and Bob Boone in line with the rest of the players during 1980 negotiations.
Don Fehr or Bud Selig by themselves are not responsible for the labour peace that we have seen in baseball for almost two decades. Current Blue Jay president Paul Beeston was a credible connection to both sides in seemingly solving what had been baseball's unparalleled history of labour unrest. I wish (and still hope) there is that type of person within the NHL.
The social media element? I really don't think it is that big of a deal. There have been pointed and biting comments made in previous work stoppages. Most memorable is Chris Chelios warning Gary Bettman that he was going to need a body guard during the 1994 Lockout. I have fewer problems with the comments of the NHL players than I do with Bettman professing that he loves the players in an interview he gave to a Winnipeg paper.
48-game schedule won't cut it
It seems that the 48-game schedule crafted in 2005 won't cut it this time around. A 60-game minimum seems an agreeable necessity by owners, the players and the fans.
I am happy that I have some perspective. Even though I am a passionate NHL fan and my livelihood depends on it, I don't live and die and get immersed with either side or their actions. I can remember interviewing Ken Baumgartner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and influential NHLPA member in 1994 on my local Toronto radio show. The players were meeting later that day for some serious discussions about ending the lockout. I ended the interview encouraging Baumgartner and the players to treat seriously this seemingly (to me) life and death issue.
Now, I don't care. Do what you wish and what you believe is right or want us to believe is right. Not my problem and not my No. 1 priority (I guess having two children since 1994 understandably has changed my perspective).
I agree with HNIC guest, Chris Botta, "this has been the Gong Show of professional sports lockouts."
Maybe Black Friday can bring us a glimmer of light!
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