As the lockout trudges on, a lack of commitment shouldn't surprise fans

Bruce Bennett

Whether it's union representatives playing in Europe or influential owners taking romantic vacations, the NHL lockout continues to deprive fans of hockey due to a lack of commitment.

There is no denying that Winnipeg Jets' forward Evander Kane has had a tumultuous start to his 2012-13 season. Due to the latest NHL labour stoppage, Kane was forced to sit on the sidelines -- without pay -- while waiting for either the league's owners or his union to blink first. Well, the waiting game wasn't allowing Kane to cash the pay cheques his everyday lifestyle became accustomed to, so he did what any smart, talented player would.

He bolted for the KHL.

After signing with Dinamo Minsk in late September, Kane tried his best to make his adjustment to a brand of hockey different to that which he knew in the NHL. In the end, he lasted all of eleven games before parting ways with the team after both parties cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for their split. And so Evander Kane returned to playing the waiting game.

On Saturday, Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press ran an article offering a summation of Kane's season thus far, including a passage which piqued my particular interest.

The following excerpt is from Tait's article:

Kane, as the Jets' assistant player rep for the NHLPA, has been keeping up with all the lockout news through teammate Ron Hainsey and the info passed along by the union.

Herein lies but one of the NHL lockout's many fatal flaws. You mean to say that there are player representatives -- be they assistant or not -- who have taken jobs overseas as opposed to being the front-liners in finding a resolve in this overarching work stoppage?

This isn't meant as a ply against Kane, a player who has seen his share of controversy since beginning the latest chapter of his career in Winnipeg. I'm sure there are many more representatives who have chosen to make money or, at the very least, stay in shape by taking jobs across the Atlantic, but what good are you to your union colleagues and the players counting on you to get a deal sanctioned when you are separated by continents?

It's an absolute farce that the NHLPA has such a large amount of player reps to begin with and that they allow them to come and go as they please whilst trying to get the remaining 700+ players their jobs back. Having said that, it's not only the players who should be blamed for their neglect of the situation at hand.

Last week Philadelphia Flyers' owner Ed Snider took girlfriend Lin Spivak on a west coast trip to California where he would later propose to her. Snider -- one of the league's most influential owners -- apparently had time to hop on a jet destined for a west coast vacation amidst a lockout in which he and other owners are trying to draw blood from the rock that is the NHLPA. And somehow, fans are supposed to buy in to the rhetoric that both sides are doing everything within their power to get a deal done.

It's no wonder why many fans are beginning to refer to the NHL as a complete joke of a league. When the NFL lockout threatened to spill over into their regular season in the summer of 2012, it was New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft along with Jeff Saturday and other prominent union reps who sat down and answered the hard questions, reaching an eleventh hour agreement in the process. The NHL, for their part, has union reps bolting for Europe, owners taking romantic getaways and Jeremy Jacobs allegedly bullying anyone who disagrees with his grand scheme for maximizing ownership profits.

With a potential drop dead date looming on the grim horizon, fans of the NHL must hope for an owner with the credentials of a Robert Kraft to speak up on their behalf. Moreover, the players at some point may have to distance themselves from the input from their legal advisory in order to cut to the heart of what's really important to them in order to save the season and a large portion of their short-lived salary.

Meanwhile, the lockout hourglass continues to edge dastardly close to running on empty, effectively eliminating the entire 2012-13 season in the process.

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