Do it now. Take the 600 or however many union members, pick teams, I don’t care how many, and start playing games. Doesn’t matter where. Play at local rinks. Figure out a way to put it on TV. Make a deal with ESPN or someone who doesn’t have ties to the NHL. The fans will watch it. The owners will lose control of their bowels.
When I became addicted to hockey, there were 12 NHL teams. There was one — count ‘em, ONE — televised game every week. Despite the fact that most of my interaction with NHL hockey was reading the one inch of copy in the newspaper the next day, or listening to the results on the radio, I was addicted. What hockey did I get to see in person? College hockey, to which we had season tickets. Youth hockey, the team I played on, my friends’ teams in the levels above and below. And, of course, that one game a week.
I don’t have to have 30 teams and a bazillion games televised. I like it. But there’s other hockey to watch. Did you know — I recently learned — that in Canada in the 50s (you know, the glory years of the original six) there was one game a week on TV (Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada) and — this is the part I didn’t know — ony the second half of the game was televised because the owners wanted people to pay to go to the game.
Those people didn’t think they were getting the short end of the hockey stick.
So let’s get started. Make a new league. Call it temporary, whatever you have to do. We’ll go to the local rinks to watch. We’ll watch streaming on-line. We’ll probably even watch people’s phone-video YouTube posts.