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04 January 2013


The Canessa Commentary
By Kevin Canessa Jr.

NEWARK, N.J. -- 

If you've ever been to an NHL game, whether in Newark, New York, Long Island or wherever, there was likely a time you got to the arena early. In doing so, you were meeting friends for a pre-game meal, or drink, or both, at a local watering hole or restaurant.

One of the reasons why the New Jersey Devils chose to move from East Rutherford -- where there was nothing but parking spaces surrounding the arena -- to Newark, was so fans could get the ultimate experience, before and after games.

When the Prudential Center opened, so, too, did numerous bars and restaurants in the area -- establishments that would not have otherwise been there. For at least 41 nights a year -- likely more with playoffs and pre-season games -- these places would be packed with fans. Hungry fans. Thirsty fans. Fans who have money to spend. And to tip. And to keep the local economy thriving.

Enter Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL. Lockout no. 3. The first was 1994. The next, 2004-5. And again now.

And word came down, today, from Manitoba, from officials who know of the situation, that the commissioner is willing, once again, to cancel an entire season because he and his minions can't come up with an agreement to start a new season with the NHLPA, Donald Fehr and his minions.

We've heard about pensions.

We've heard about length of contracts.

We've heard about length of agreements.

We've heard it might even be more economically beneficial not to have a 2012-13 season rather than accepting a deal that wouldn't get the league maximum revenue.

What we haven't heard a peep about -- from Bettman, Fehr, players, owners or, for that matter, anyone -- is the detrimental effect this lockout has had, again, on those business owners who have places near NHL arenas. We haven't heard about the women and men who collect tickets, vend beer, soda hotdogs and cotton candy. We haven't heard a peep about the ones who collect parking fees.

We haven't heard word one about these people.

And yet, they're really the ones who are most screwed by the utter greed demonstrated by the players and the owners here.

No one has mentioned the woman from Newark, who sells popcorn by walking around the arena at Devils games, who makes about $8 an hour -- four hours a day for a whopping grand total of $32 -- who can't even make THAT money, because there are no games being played.

What about the guy who took out a $100,000 loan to open up a bar near the arena, because he was fully aware he could make it big because the hockey fans would be there 40-plus nights a year ... but who now can't pay back his loan because there are no games -- and no money to be made?

It's gotten to a point where I wish these folks -- the employees, the bar owners, the lot attendants -- could forge a union of their own, go to court, and sue the pants off the league for doing this to them for the third time in 17 years.

As usual, in all sports-related disputes -- and for that matter, most highly public disputes (see U.S Congress) -- it's the little guys who are the ones who suffer the most.

One day, the league will be back. It might be January. It might be October. It might be next January. In the meantime, that ticket-taker wonders where and how he'll come up with the money to put food on the table for his kids. That bar owner will wonder if she'll be able to keep the doors open long enough to reap the benefits of having hockey games in the area.

And Bettman, Fehr and company go on as if there isn't a care in the world.

This, folks, is the most sickening element of the lockout.

And yet another reason why, as always, the rich get richer.

And the common man is a sucker.


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