2012 NHL Lockout: Open Letter to Mr. Ilitch

Bruce Bennett

On the eve of the owners' meeting, a plea to an owner.

Dear Mr. Ilitch,

I write this as a fan of the team your company owns and as a blogger who covers that team, as a customer of your businesses and a willing participant in a community centered around your holdings. Forgive the formal manner of address, but I'm not entirely certain which Mr. Ilitch I'm supposed to be talking to here.

Am I talking to the Red Wings governor Mike Ilitch or the President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Chris? Perhaps I missed the mark in trying to address the person really running the Detroit Red Wings and I should have said Mrs. instead?

Regardless, I hope you carry this message into the owners' meeting tomorrow:

"Screw you jerkoffs; let's get the NHL back on the ice."

Now, being a professional, you don't necessarily have to word it like that. In fact, I would probably caution against doing so for the sake of effectiveness. It's not the wording that's important, but the message. As the person running the team in Detroit, are you as sold as the rest of your colleagues that the fans in your city are going to flock back to knock down the gates next year after you've given them another 12 months to find other things to do with their hard-earned money while you tick another year off the careers of your team's aging core trying to chase a dime down the gutter?

Or have you been trying to turn back the vote you cast in favor of this lockout all along and have been shut out by a commissioner and his cabal of veto-busters too numerous to overcome? Stifled by a league constitution that gives those bullies the power to force you out of the franchise the family has owned for 30 years if you don't toady to their whims?

Then do something about it.

With everything that's happened in this lockout, we've gone past the point of having passengers in this thing and, let's face it, you're at the wheel of too big and powerful an organization to have it in coast for this long. At this point, if you're not working to actively end the lockout, then you are acting to prolong it, and that is becoming unacceptable to a growing number of fans whose interest in supporting you is withering and dying off the dwindling supply of good faith you've built being hockey's best ownership group for 30 years.

When you go into the owners' meeting tomorrow, just ask yourself if it's all worth it. You don't owe us answers, Mr. Ilitch and you don't owe it to us to start playing immediately; but we also don't owe it to you to come back and keep supporting a franchise which, through complacency or complicity in this lockout, looks to be turning from a model franchise to a facsimile.

You've spoiled your fanbase into expecting the best from you at all times, regardless of the actions of a league that's tried to stifle your excellence. Just know that if you change, so will the fanbase.

Thank you.

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