Fans are upset, outraged, or, at worst, apathetic.
Players and owners are jockeying for any support they can get while simultaneously fighting one another for who should have the biggest silver spoon.
And there, in the wake of it all, stand the people whose lives are truly affected by the lockout—the employees who are now jobless due to the uncertainty of the 2012-13 season. The latest big layoff of note: Florida Panther’s mascot Stanley C. Panther.
If this isn’t a sign that there is no hope for the season, I don’t know what is.
But what really breaks my heart is that it doesn’t even look like Stanley understands what is going on.
Just five hours ago, his FaceBook page and twitter account was updated with this:
I’m uncertain if that’s his way of leaving things on a positive note or if someone took over his account. Stanley has been with the team since its inception in ’93– the same year Gary Bettman came to kill hockey– and if you were to have asked who I’d think would have the longer career back then… let’s just say it doesn’t match the reality of the situation.
Honestly, I can’t help but find a little irony in Stanley’s ‘about me,’ which states: “Who needs nine lives when you can get it right the first time?”
I guess he can ponder that very question in the unemployment line, specifically how this is Bettman’s third shot at this, and he has yet to get it right.
But it’s not just about Stanley, or the other mascots that will be forced into a world they weren’t meant to live in; it’s only been four days, and in addition to the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators move to start laying off workers, the NHL headquarters itself is already preparing for a bleak future.
Despite Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly telling The Canadian Press earlier this week that the league had “no immediate plans to lay off staff,” Wednesday, they moved to a four day work week, meaning pay will be docked 20 percent. Furthermore, employees were warned that more cuts and possible layoffs might be imminent.
NHL players are already making plans across seas, most recently with Alex Ovechkin and Pavel Datsyuk heading to Russia and Jason Spezza and Rick Nash leaving for Switzerland.
If this is only four days in, and the league and NHLPA haven’t sat down to hash things out since Sept. 12, I think it’s safe to say that mascots everywhere should put themselves on notice and start sending out those resumes. This one is gonna be a doozy.