Photo credit: Len Redkoles
Over the past eight years, there have been too many games lost to lockout, especially for a “fringe” sport that once had lower TV ratings than poker. In 2004-05, the NHL scrapped a whole season to cram a salary cap down the players’ throats. If that weren’t enough, in 2012-13, fans lost 34 games because the owners and players played chicken with record-high revenues, finding compromise only when the drop-dead date drew near. It’s friggin’ stupid.
We’ve lost 116 games in which Alex Ovechkin would have played at or near his prime.
On Monday, the Pittsburgh Penguins handled things right. Ron Burkle, Mario Lemieux, and CEO David Morehouse just straight up said sorry.
“We offer our apology,” the note said. “There is nothing we can say to explain or excuse what has happened over the past four months.”
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis sent out his own message on Sunday. There was no apology. Instead, it was an empty PR-y message that sweeps nasty feelings under the rug, assumes support, and looks forward.
“Thanks to all of you for your patience, support and understanding during this process,” Leonsis writes in his closing paragraph. This message was sent out during the middle of the Redskins’ first playoff game in five years.
I was not patient, supportive, or understanding of this lockout. I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. Two fan comments near the top of the page articulate how a lot of people in this area feel right now.
“100-plus days of locked out hockey and you expect two paragraphs is going to do… what, exactly?” writes ZacharyB. “Show us you care? Forget it, Ted. You’ve lost this fan for a very long while.”
Mr Ka-Boom! goes a step further: “I have asked for my money back. I am done with [hockey.]”
The fact is Leonsis, reported to be one of the hardline owners during negotiations, has some fences to mend. I’ve got an idea on how he could begin to mend those fences.
Ted, on Opening Night, you should donate your suite to the loyal season-ticket holders who had been left out in the cold until now. Instead, sit with fans in the upper bowl of Verizon Center. Let your most ardent supporters eat exotic cheeses and drink fancy wine. Come upstairs. Shake hands and sit with the people who have given hundreds and thousands of dollars (a big deal in this economy) to support your team and make it among the best in the NHL. Painting “Thank you, fans” on the ice will not suffice. You know that.
This is your opportunity, Ted. Take the challenge. It’s not a publicity stunt, it’s an opportunity to genuinely interact with fans. And if you want, I can tag along. I’ll help absorb any popcorn thrown your way.
Our readers have suggested this idea and ones like it in our comments and emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think it over, and let us know what you think. You have been one of the most ardent supporters of RMNB; let us help you extend the first olive branch to fans this year. We promise, like everything we do, it’ll be a big deal, and hopefully, everyone will be left smiling in the end.