This week is was revealed the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise is worth $1-billion. Captain Dion Phaneuf's salary last year was $6.5-million. It's hard to figure out who to cheer for in the NHL labour dispute.
The Leafs haven't been in a Stanley Cup final since the year Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on vinyl - the first time. Phaneuf is an above-average defenceman at best.
Hockey fans, relax. Sooner or later this dispute will end, although the thoughts of watching Hockey Night in Canada anytime soon is a pipe dream. The 2012/13 season will most likely be a wash.
What both sides need in this dispute is some good old fashioned vigilante justice by the fans.
Once hockey returns, ignore them.
Stay away. Turn your television dials to a different sport. Don't buy their overpriced jerseys. If you've just discovered the joys of junior hockey by accident, keep supporting the kids. Let's put together and support a women's professional league.
The message both sides need to hear is "this was not acceptable."
Empty arenas and lousy television ratings will send an immediate message.
Stay away and stick to it.
When baseball players went on strike in 1994, wiping out the World Series (and the Montreal Expos best chance at a championship), many fans boycotted in 1995. With baseball playing a 162-game season in huge stadiums, it was noticeable.
Hockey is business with basic supply-and-demand principles. Obviously, there's enough people out there who don't mind spending over $1,000 to take a family of four to a Canucks game (by the time you throw all the extras in.)
Perhaps corporations should look to other outlets to entertain clients -
concerts, retreat weekends or the ever-reliable round of golf.
If enough fans rally and say "we don't care," perhaps then, and only then, an end to labour turmoil with millionaire athletes will end.
- Penticton Herald Managing Editor James M. Miller