A Promise to the NHL and NHLPA

Today is September 15, the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA. Tonight, barring an 11th-hour miracle, the league will lock out its players and begin yet another in a seemingly endless cycle of work stoppages.

If that happens, I have a promise to both sides.

The promise is this: I will not spend so much as a dime for the rest of my life on any of the auxiliary streams of revenue the league has.

I’m not turning my back on hockey or even NHL hockey – I’m a fan and always will be. So I’ll keep going to games and buying the sports package on TV so I can watch the teams play. But that’s where it stops.

A huge portion of NHL revenue comes from merchandise and concessions. Jerseys, coffee mugs, hockey cards – when anything with a team logo is sold, the NHL gets a piece of it. The same goes for the pricey beer and nachos sold at arenas.

I’m done with it all.

Granted, I’m not the consumer of those products that I once was, even now. As writing about the Oilers has taken more and more of my time – and eventually transitioned into my full-time job – I’ve been less and less enthused about team merchandise. It’s hard to write objectively about a team while wearing their colours, and I’ve become far less a collector of team-related merchandise than I was even five years ago.

I’ve never stopped completely though, and when at the games I enjoy beer and nachos as much as the next man. But if the lockout, as expected, starts today, those days are over. I’ll Gandhi the games and the vintage Kurri jersey in my closet will be the last thing with an NHL logo on it that I ever buy.

That’s a promise.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • eastcoastoil

    Well said JW, in todays world there are so many other ways to watch hockey than pay the large money for the package. The problem is going to the games, when I lived in Edmonton I would try for ten games a year. At every one of them I was wearing some form of merchandise, consuming some form of over priced beverage and food while paying for top dollar parking.

    Bring back the flask and the “vintage” jerseys

  • eastcoastoil

    When baseball went on strike I swore a pox on thier collective houses, not a penny of mine would ever go to any of them. Since then I never been to a game, never watched a game or bought a piece of merchandise. I swore that I would never consciously support the sponsors either. This I have done. Even when I walk into a room and a game is on I either leave or get busy doing something else. Never watched a worlds series, nothing…

    Of course with hockey this will be difficult. But JW I support you and will put myself on a diet. Principles my friends, principles.

  • Beavis

    Hear hear! I haven’t really bought any merchandise for a long time, but I can do my part and continue to not buy any.

    Seriously though, is there a professional league with less respect for its fans? MLB had the infamous 94 strike, but has there been anything major since? Last year the NFL even managed to get the season started on time. That could still happen here, but if I were betting money I wouldn’t put it on that scenario.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Props, JW. I agree.

    I have already cut my cable package and only watch games streaming online from shady Czech websites (or CBC). I don’t watch any of the advertising, don’t and will continue to not buy merchandise, however I have a habit of being at 10-20 games a year, and assume that I will continue.

    The lack of heroin beer in my fists while at the games will be the toughest thing to overcome, but i will partake in beverages or party favors before going and smuggle in my own nachos with cheese (don’t ask where I will stash it).

    I will not pay for parking. I will walk miles before giving them $12 to show me where to put my car.

    To everyone: First step, kill your cable package.