Life it too short and too precious to spend it getting mad at little things. When you get to a certain age, you realize what’s truly important in life, and that will vary depending on who you talk to. For some, like NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the team owners, what matters most is money. The more, the merrier. In fact, they would sell their soul (or the integrity of the game of hockey) for a buck or two. For most people, what matters more is love, happiness, family, health. As your body starts to dwindle and your mind isn’t what it used to be, you realize that you have had your priorities wrong for the most part for way too long.
(Update from June 29, 2021 at the bottom)
Those who have been following me know that I have been a passionate Habs’ fan for over five decades. I have seen and lived the Glory Days of the 70’s. I’ve gone through the downs of the 80’s, with the resurrection of ’86 and ’93. And that’s when things started sliding downhill, when in the summer of 1993, the NHL hired NBA reject Gary Bettman, who didn’t know what an offside was, to run the league.
All for cash
Ever since then, the NHL has been making decisions based on money and money only. While players were screwed over by Alan Eagleson, never has the game been damaged like it has been since Bettman has taken over. But guess what? It’s all good because there are more teams, more revenue. It’s the money-making mentality where all that matters is money. Player safety? It doesn’t bring money. Fairness? It doesn’t bring cash either. Canada? Meh, they’ll follow and be the cash cow regardless of what the NHL does, so who cares about them? Money, greed and more money. As they clearcut our forests, dig our planet, build pipelines at the risks of our wildlife and environment… all for money.
Worse, many fans defend it. Most of them don’t know better anyway. They think the game is better, faster, because they see the odd old game on TV. Truth is… it’s not. Far from it. Oh there have been good things done, both they are outweighed by the bad moves or side effects of what has turned out to be considered “positive”. At least, that’s my opinion. Others will disagree and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s their rights. But I don’t have to keep bending over and taking it up the tail pipe while giving them my time and money. That’s my choice. Others like that? Good on them. I don’t.
I’ll tell you what though. They’re laughing at you, fans and media. Not the players. Not even the coaches and GMs. They’ve victims just like you. They’re tools allowing rich owners, led by a corrupt Commissionner, to make hand over fists loads of money.
A few examples
Oh you don’t believe me? There are plenty of examples that have been piling on for years now.
When they amended the Instigator Rule in the mid-90’s, they told the players that they would do a better job at protecting them through tighter refereeing and tougher suspensions. I specifically remember because I thought at the time that it wouldn’t work. The NHL’s track record went opposite to what they claimed wanting to do. Guess what? It didn’t work. “We’re going to try to change player behaviour.” That has been the goal since the NHL formed the Department of Player Safety in 2011: to change player behaviour, making the game safer while keeping it physical. How’s that worked out? They tied the players hands behind their back and are protecting the aggressors, instead of the victims, while suspensions are, most often than not, extremely questionable. It’s a league run by rats.
The league expanded when Europeans started joining the league. That was a good thing as the best players in the world were coming over to form the best caliber league in the world. But then, the NHL started using expansion as a source of revenue, hoping to grow some markets. Fact is the league was at its best when it counted 24 teams. Anything after that was for the money cow. They then started diluting talent, lowering the level of play. If you took the 4th line and bottom defense pairing off each team, the third line would become the fourth, the second pairing would be the bottom pairing. Good players would have good players to play with. No need to have a diplôma to understand that.
In fact, the NHL owners have pocketed $1 billion for the last two expansion. You think they’re thinking of the product on the ice? They don’t give a rats’ ass about it, rest assured. They will sell their soul for a buck, as we’ve seen with the expansion rules being so in favour of the expansion teams, that the Vegas Golden Knight made it the the Stanley Cup finals… on their expansion year! No league that has any self-respect will tip the odd that badly over its existing teams. Worse, Vegas won’t lose a player at the Seattle expansion draft this summer! Talk about corruption! But other NHL owners were bought out with the expansion money. The good and integrity of the game? Who cares?
There are plenty of other examples of poor decisions made by the NHL where by trying to improve on one aspect, they never thought about the side effects of their decisions. I’ll spare you the details in this article but I’ve written multiple times about it, including in this one.
My last season
I’ve been mulling it over for a while now. Just recently, I’ve hinted that this is where my head was heading. I’ve pleaded to the NHL to get their act together (not that I thought it would change anything). I’ve tried changing myself, my views, my way of doing things or seeing things differently. But hockey is not fun to watch anymore. I used to watch hockey as a source of entertainment and it was doing just that. Now, it’s become a source of frustration, getting mad at the officiating, the NHL Player Safety, at the injustice and truthfully, mind boggling decisions made by Bettman and his greedy Board of Governors. But they don’t care. They’re laughing in your face folks. They know you’re like a herd of sheep following regardless, particularly in Canada. Follow without questions asked, they shave your wool over your back and sell it to the States for cash, for their own profit. Wash, rince, repeat.
This sheep has had it. I bought a guitar, I’ll teach myself to play. I have a wood/welding shop that I’ve equipped. I will be creating some neat artwork, rustic art stuff. I might even sell some in the summer at our local Farmers and Community market, or on Facebook. This pandemic will end soon and I’ll focus on human interaction, other activities not including hockey. No more NHL Centre Ice for me.
My mind is made up. I have not decided about what I will do with this blog. It won’t be for hockey anymore though. I might keep it for lifestyle-type articles. Or I might simply shut it down. That, I don’t know. But when the Habs’ playoffs’ run is over, I will be deleting my Twitter account. I will be doing the same with my Facebook page. Hockey will be a thing of the past for me. I have tons of Habs’ paraphernalia that I’m not sure what I’ll do with. Some autographed stuff. Some very unique stuff. I won’t keep those. 2011 will have been the end of my relationship with the NHL and sadly, with my beloved Montreal Canadiens. It’s been a good ride. Too bad Bettman ruined it. These last playoffs did me in… Chris Lee in back to back games was the final drop.
At some point, if it looks like crap, smells like crap, you don’t have to taste it to know that it’s crap. And that’s what Gary Bettman and the Board of Governors are. And even if I’ve defended you over the years, yes, I’m looking at you too, Geoff Molson, who hasn’t put his big boy pants on for the good of the game. Now I can hear some thinking that I’m doing this for attention. That’s not knowing me. Nor do I think that the NHL will give a rat’s ass about it. They’ll be gaining thousands of fans in Seattle alone. Losing one fan in Canada won’t matter to them. I don’t expect them to care either. I do it for me, not for them. I’m done doing things for them. But I owe it to my readers and followers to explain what I’m doing.
In the meantime, here’s hoping for Cup number 25 in my last season. For that, the Canadiens will have to beat Vegas and whoever reaches the finals. But one thing is crystal clear: they’ll also have to beat Gary Bettman and the NHL officials. Go Habs Go! Then so long.
EDIT June 29,2021:
After listening to Gary Bettman put his head in the sand and take us for idiots by claiming that the NHL has the best referees in all professional sports, combined with the prestation of Dan O’Rourke and Francis Charron officiating Game one of the Stanley Cup finals, I have bumped my decision. I was going to wait after this amazing playoffs’ run by our Canadiens but no more. I’m done with the NHL, with Gary Bettman and his destruction of what used to be the coolest game on earth. To him and the owners, enjoy your fist-full of money. You won’t get a penny more from this man. Many will still be willing to take it up the tailpipe. I’m not one of them. Enough is enough. Time to move on to entertainment that does that: entertain instead of frustrating long time, hardcore fans. To my readers and followers, thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s been a blast. Go Whatever Go!