If you didn’t know (and I certainly didn’t) there is a group out there calling itself the NHL Fans Association which apparently purports to represent the will of hockey fans in the same way the NHL Players Association does its union members.
Their website claims 30,355 “members” and 251 “MVPs” who I assume are probably members who paid extra money. Jim Boone is the founder of this organization and through that claim to fame has himself a blog on our favorite Sunbelt-Hockey-Bashing publication, The Hockey News.
Boone’s newest update communicates the results of a poll of the NHLFA’s members. Apparently the main concerns of their members depend on whether they are answering from north or south of the U.S./Canadian border. American fans, according to Boone’s data, want to see higher quality and more widely available television coverage for the NHL in the United States. Fair enough, and a sentiment I think all of us here at the Chronicle share.
Where this whole exercise turns nutty however, is when Boone reveals the main concern of Canadian members of his organization, which is the ouster of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Apparently Canadian NHLFA membership is comprised mainly of the canuckle-draggers who believe that Commissioner Bettman is an evil robot from the future sent back in time to prevent NHL franchises from being moved to Canada. Bettman has become a lightning rod for irrational Canadians who don’t understand why an NHL team in a major American media market shouldn’t immediately be uprooted and moved to any available site north of the Canadian border.
According to Boone, “Canadian fans feel this man has done more harm than good to the game. They feel Bettman is not in touch with the sport’s grassroots – in Canada – and the time has come to find a new and more informed leader.” That “- in Canada –“ emphasis was Boone’s, not mine. Our gracious neighbors to the north don’t want someone who has worked tirelessly to grow our game, expand the fan base, and drag the sport out of the low scoring doldrums of the late 90’s. They want somebody who will pluck teams out of the southern US and put them in Winnipeg, Quebec City, Hamilton, and Moose Jaw.
An earlier poll about members’ views on the Coyotes situation reveals surprisingly little. The questions asked for predictions, not personal feelings. The only question that gets at all to the desires of participants is “Do you think it is in the best interest of the NHL and its fans to have the Phoenix franchise relocate to Southern Ontario?” To which the vast majority of Canadian members and a narrow margin of American members said yes. One can easily think it’s in the league’s best interest to move them there, but they may not personally want to see it happen. It may also be in your best interest to order a Michelob Ultra at the game but full calorie Labatt Blue tastes a whole lot better. If there were other questions asked, they and the results aren’t included in the report published on the NHLFA’s website.