Let 'em hear you

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 4:00 PM ET

If you're a disenchanted hockey fan and feel like your voice isn't being heard, here's your chance.

A transplanted Winnipegger living in Vancouver is organizing what he calls the Great Canadian Hockey Call to Arms -- a nationwide protest of the NHL lockout.

Jeff Powell, who calls himself Joe Average Canadian, is a 23-year-old marketing assistant and part-time musician who's fed up with millionaire players and billionaire owners treating the rest of us like gum wrap.

The target: players union boss Bob Goodenow and NHL commish Gary Bettman.

The plan: to rally thousands of people outside arenas across the country on Saturday, Oct. 16, which was supposed to be the first regular season Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

Actually, rally might be the wrong word.

BOOING

"I don't think we need people going hip-hip-hooray," Powell said from Vancouver yesterday. "The Great Canadian Hockey Call to Arms is about booing these guys like we just lost the game. We're losing the game right now.

"If you were at a game and seeing your team give a lousy effort, which Goodenow and Bettman are giving, you'd be booing them senseless ... they're doing a stinking job of trying to resolve this."

The way Powell sees it, this isn't just about hockey.

It's about the bartender or waiter whose tips will dry up because nobody's out watching the game.

It's about the concession worker or front-office employee whose part-time income just took an Ed Jovanovski mid-ice hit.

And it's about the kids who'll have no heroes to cheer for who knows how long.

In other words, it's a fanfare for the common man.

"I'm calling on people who the game was lost to in the last 15 years," Powell said. "I'd like people to have that one opportunity to say, 'I was a fan, and I'm not anymore.' Or, 'I am a fan, and you're p---ing me off.'"

Growing up in the 'Peg, Powell was a huge Jets fan who still can't believe Bob Murdoch kept switching between Bob Essensa and Stephane Beauregard in goal against the Oilers in the 1990 playoffs.

Like many of us, he became disillusioned about the game when the Jets skipped town for Phoenix.

Moving to the West Coast a year ago, he got caught up in the buzz generated by the Canucks, and rediscovered his inner fan.

Now it's like he's being punched in the gut a second time.

Powell's plan has gained some media attention -- he's done a few radio and newspaper interviews. His "demands" include a hard salary cap, a drop in ticket prices, a return to offensive hockey, a reduction in the number of teams in non-hockey markets and a return of the NHL to his hometown.

He's never tried to get thousands of people together before, so he could use some help.

"We just need momentum," Powell said. "It's a case of inertia. We'll go back to elementary science class: the toughest part is getting the boulder to move."

GIVE IT A PUSH

If you want to give it a push, you can visit masterandy.com/greatcanadianhockeycalltoarms.

Powell's vision: that on Oct. 16, at 6 p.m. CDT, you won't be able to turn on a radio or TV without hearing a nationwide chorus of boos.

"In my head, the country would shut down for two minutes, booing what has happened to their national pastime," he said. "The louder, the better. I want people to boo louder than they ever have before."

Louder, even, than you used to boo the Oilers and Flames.

If you still aren't convinced, wait until you see this winter's Saturday night TV lineup.

"I heard the CBC is going to be having Disney movie night," Powell said. "And I've already seen Bambi three times -- I don't need to see it again."


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