Replaceable

Boy, am I getting sick of writing posts out of some haze of depression. I’m sure you’re sick of reading them. Wish there was another way right now.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s so infuriating about the obtuseness and tone-deafness of both sides in this. And maybe it’s just the feeling deep down that no matter how much screaming you do or promises you make, you know that the people in charge won’t hear you (I could speak at one constant volume, at one constant pitch, at one constant rhythm, and you still won’t hear….). Maybe it’s just having to witness the aching stupidity of it all. But what is that born out of?

I think it’s the perception from them, and the feeling for us, of being replaceable.

No one likes feeling that they’re easily replaced. It’s why you write stupid long emails — probably while drunk — to your ex after you find out or see her/him with someone new. It’s part of the reason getting fired sucks. And there are myriad other occasions.

For the owners, even if they genuinely believe every boycott threat they hear (which none of us do so I don’t know why they would), they probably believe that with the right marketing in their city, the right personnel moves, the right combination of winning and promotion, someone else will take that seat, buy that jersey, watch the games. Maybe it’s not arrogance in thinking that every fan will return. What hurts is they know it might not matter if everyone does. Which is true.

On the players side, or maybe just Don Fehr’s, it doesn’t matter to them how many sponsors are driven away forever or fans are burning their season tickets (which would be a silly thing to do, but I won’t tell you how to cope). To the hierarchy of the Players Association, the sponsors and getting fans in the building isn’t their problem.

So while we can’t fathom why they would fight for a slightly bigger piece of a quickly shrinking pie, I get it now. Because most of these guys have contracts, and it is Fehr’s job to simply make sure they get all of those contracts, or as much as possible. It’s why he’ll squeeze to the last minute, and why he may have supposedly killed the momentum last night that was built up from the two days before.

Because with those contracts signed, why does it matter to a player if there’s 10,000 in the building or 18,000? Why does it matter if his bosses can’t find people to pay for the skyboxes or put their signage in the building? He’s getting his paycheck every two weeks. That just adds to the feeling of being replaceable.

Sure, the players will tell you that they care about the fans, and they prefer to play in a full, loud building. And they’ll be at the appearances, and they’ll thank you for coming out and maybe even apologize for went when on. But that picture they take with your kid or that puck they sign? That could be anybody to them. It’s not framed on their wall like it is yours.

I see more and more writers mentioning the layoffs of team employees, or the damage this is causing to actual lives of beer vendors and stadium employees. Well, I’m in that camp. But I know better than to think any of them will care. Because to the aristocracy, we’re clock punchers. We’re scenery, even though we work for them. And if we move on or find other work, someone will take up our posts when it’s time. Someone else will jump at the opportunity to be an intern for a hockey team with the carrot of joining in full time. Someone will.

Until they have to fear that no one will fill these gaps, there’s nothing to panic about.

On a personal note, I’ve tried to remain as hinged as I can during this. I don’t want to make it seem like I think the effects of this lockout on me, or my anger or my sadness is any better or worse or more worthy than yours. It’s just different. I’m  watching the collection notices starting to fill the mailbox. I’m  dropping deeper and deeper in debt to friends and family. I’m seeing the only job I was pretty good at, and certainly the only one i ever loved, slip away. So I ask for your understanding if my posts and tweets are a touch angrier or darker than others you might see. It’s hard to parse out the fear and uncertainty of it all to just be a fan at times.

And worst yet, it’s all replaceable and inconsequential to those who are doing this to us.

  • BodomSlayer

    Sam, I feel for you. The work you do is absolutely amazing and I subscribed to the Indian this year because of how much I love your work. I hope things come together and these shit birds pull their heads out of their asses and get back to playing games.

    In the meantime I wish the best for you and wish there was more I can do than just offer you these words.

  • Dash Bashful

    I definitely feel for you as I’ve been on the ugly side of two unexpected layoffs (one due to Curtis Joseph inexplicably standing on his head in 93…bastard). The thing is that not everyone is replaceable. I’ll be that asshole that points out how unreadable SCH has become in the last few months. You guys are that much better and as this has played out you continue to show it.

  • Hawksinfour

    Hang in there, man. And keep up the great work here. You are needed.

  • Skags

    Yeah, it pretty much sucks. Pick your ass up and move on. If it’s time, it’s time. You are one helluva writer.

  • PainSt

    Thanks fo staying sane, sam
    the lock out has been about one single thing
    the owners waiting for the players to make concessions and agree to the owners’ proposals
    unfortunately the players hired an overpaid bozo to tell them that they had some other option
    or even negotiating leverage
    they dont/they didnt and it will all end when they realize this
    ironicly the owners’ proposals are still way over the top so game ticket prices wont be coming down to reasonable levels any time soon – too bad
    more than half the teams are losing money due to player salaries
    games are too expensive to attend due to player salaries
    the union is locked out due to player salaries
    you might say “hey
    those idiots agreed to those stupid playerside-heavy contracts
    and you’d be right
    you might also say “hey …
    those players negotiated their contracts in good faith and the owners need to pay up
    and due to the wonderful world of unions and cba you’d be incorrect
    no one is ever happy about a pay cut but i’ll tell you right now lots of people took pay cuts in the ;last 4 years to keep their jobs
    and the players will do the same
    it would be very interesting to see a few players quit the union and sue the owners for the full value of their contracts
    in such a case i could do nothing but side with the player
    (and so would contract law)
    but as long as the albatross of unionization will collude to keep tickets unaffordable and owners outbidding each other for semi-useless easily replacable players
    i have to say
    “fuck off. you fucking communists”
    let’s hire some scabs and play the game
    cheap

    • PainSt

      I’ll add this too since i’m on a roll:

      If the players owned the league they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay themselves</b.

  • skyhawk83

    I have to say that while I have been annoyed with the lockout and the associated proceedings, reading this is what caused me to cross the barrier from annoyed to outright anger. This was supposed to be a time of great celebration in our little community, the beginning the era of Pax Committed Indian. The brand new site, which is gorgeous, a team that should be entertaining, and all the associated joy that comes from all things hockey, right down to the little things like reading what Sam and his merry band of men have to offer on game day, or commiserating after a loss to Edmonton – again.

    Instead we got served this crap sandwich by the NHL.

    I spent the last several years down in Southern Illinois, manning a small Blackhawks outpost in Carbondale. And SCH was my lifeline back to the rest of hockey civilization. I’ll be the first to admit I’ll be there with open arms once the lockout ends. No need to lie about it. But for what it’s worth, I’ll be running back not just for the anticipation of Pat exclaiming ‘Hawks win.’ Not just because I’m excited to hear the anthem again, or to see the red and white sweater in full flight as 88 brings the puck up the ice, not just because I can’t wait to see 19 ply his trade and 81 do his thing. Not just because I’m anxious to see what the Rockford brigade might have to offer. Or because I’m ready to see the Canucks return to our house to renew the finest rivalry the league has going right now.

    The amusement, satisfaction, and pleasure I derive from what was SCH and is now CI.com, and the way it has enhanced my enjoyment of the Blackhawks, is as big a reason as any that I want this nightmare to end.

    We’ll always have an angry and occasionally depressed Sam, I just can’t wait for it be because Andrew Shaw keeps taking odd penalties and Nick Leddy is making interesting decisions in the defensive zone – you know, the good ole days…

    We’re waiting, and boy are we hoping too.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    hello..does this thing work?

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    whoa it does!