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Surely a rhetorical jest

In his Jan. 7 column, It's your move, Jets fans, Gary Lawless ponders the question as to whether fans will still be interested in the Jets and the NHL after months of unseemly bickering over the financial spoils of professional hockey.

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Articulating such a thought must surely be a rhetorical jest on the part of Lawless. Of course the fans will be back. Were he alive today, P.T. Barnum could have explained why to Lawless in less than a minute.




Kudos to the NHL and the players' association for finally coming to an agreement that should have the top rung of hockey playing once again. At this time, we all should not point fingers of blame, but rather move on to what is left of the season and enjoy it thoroughly. When the collective bargaining agreement is up for renewal 10 years hence, the union and owners should remember that the long lockout did anger and lose fans, particularly in the southern part of the U.S.

Sports is entertainment, and a long layoff cannot but have hurt the industry that is the NHL, players and owners alike.




The stupidity on both sides, from a fan's standpoint, has been nauseating -- millionaires at odds with billionaires.

It took about 20 years to earn $1 million, as it would for most fans. Most players pass that point partway into the second year of a rookie contract. I buy tickets to eight games per year. That's all I can afford to pay both the players and the owners.

As their customer, I'd like to point out to the owners that no player is worth $60 million, yet multi-year contracts are signed regularly paying such amounts. Then they want taxpayer subsidies in virtually every market. This again is my money they want. Stop it. Run your own damn business with the money you earn from a product that is dependable and entertaining.

To the players, understand that your jobs are to entertain the fans. You are supposed to be working for your organization to attract the fan to want to spend my money on games and souvenirs. Appreciate what you have and behave as ambassadors for your league.

We fans should protest our discontent to the owners and the players. What if no one cheered or clapped for the pre-game skate and introductions at every game in the league for a week? A full house and silence would speak volumes from the fans.




While the rest of the world is moving away from defined-benefit pension plans and into defined-contribution plans, the lowly paid NHL player will have a defined pension plan on top of what he is able to have squirrelled away. If anybody needed a defined-contribution plan, it is the pro sports athlete who is given large sums of money at a young age with little experience in fiscal management.

A defined-contribution plan would actually teach them to save their money. But what do I know? The players' expectation that they be set for life while playing hockey is what sets them apart from common society.

That is why today is not Christmas for me with the Jets coming back, as I am losing the ability to relate to this type of mindset. Say what you want about the CFL, but the players there still have to work for a living, and I can relate to that.


Quill Lake, Sask.


The Winnipeg Jets players could go a long way to regaining their (somewhat) alienated fan base if they were to appear gratis throughout the shortened season at local business establishments that, unlike them, must rely on non-negotiable "hockey-related revenue (City fans welcome NHL back, Jan. 7).

Picking up a few tabs while there also makes for far better press than a tweeted image of dropping the equivalent amount in Vegas.




If everyone stayed home for the opening game in every arena in the NHL, they would send a strong message to these overpaid babies and their billionaire bozo owners.

Hit 'em where it hurts -- in their precious egos and pocketbooks.




If the league is that confident that it can ignore the most important part of the game, the fans, without some payback, it is insulting us.

Any other organization, when the client has expressed a concern over service, will endeavour to make things right.

Go to Vegas and have a legitimate complaint about your room being too noisy, too hot, too cold, whatever, and management will go out of its way to apologize and comp you a show or a meal.

Well, NHL, here's your chance to do something for the fans. Before I go further, I am not a season-ticket holder, so have nothing to gain here. For the first game back, after this total unnecessary lockout, no one pays for their ticket. You got it. Comp your fans that first game back. You owe it to them.




The fan boycott in Winnipeg would hurt only Mark Chipman. He mounted a successful fight to bring top-quality professional hockey back to Winnipeg, where it belongs.

When the lockout happened, Chipman was at every negotiation he could participate in, desperately fighting to get a deal done -- one that was fair to the players but was also in the best interest of the long-term viability of the NHL in Winnipeg.

Chipman deserves our support and so does the team, which will most certainly be making a playoff run this year.




I find it sad that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was so very quick to tweet about the resolution of the hockey lockout but was so reluctant to respond to Chief Theresa Spence's request for an audience.

Instead, he allowed her to continue her hunger strike for more than three weeks. This is a clear statement about where his priorities lie.




NHL hockey might well be back, but the arts never left us. Now tell me what truly defines this city and perhaps give thanks to those who work for what amounts to cab fare for a 20-something professional athlete. I'm sorry, but there's something wrong with this equation.



Debt paid in full

In your Jan. 4 story Filipino centre racks up debt owed to city -- again, you make reference, in the last paragraph, to Centro Caboto: "In 2005, Centro Caboto on Wilkes Avenue racked up a $669,000 tab for unpaid roadwork and surfacing fees relating from its original lease agreement with the city, signed in 1997."

While this statement is partially true (the amount actually also included some property-tax arrears), it may lead the uninformed reader to think or believe that this debt is still outstanding.

The reality is that in the fall of 2005, the Italian Canadian League of Manitoba Inc., the registered owner of Centro Caboto, and City of Winnipeg officials negotiated a settlement whereby the ICLM paid out, in one lump sum, all and any outstanding amounts owing to the city with respect to the original lease agreement.

Since then, Centro Caboto has satisfied all ongoing financial requirements inherent in the original lease.


Italian Canadian League of Manitoba


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 8, 2013 A7

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