An American-based hockey fan movement, led by the National Hockey League's designated 2003 Fan of The Year, is calling for a place at respective owners' and players' meetings this week.
Roger Farina, a 19-year U.S. Army veteran, who wore his New York Islanders jersey while serving in Iraq, challenged commissioner Gary Bettman to practise what he preaches.
"I have to remember something that Mr. Bettman told me when I was commissioner for a day in May, 2003," Farina said in an e-mail to the Sun from his quarters at Ft. Bragg, N.C. "(Bettman said) as commissioner, I represent all the fans, so even though my first act was to (jokingly) disband the Rangers' organization, he said I couldn't because I was representing all the teams and all the fans. I have to live up to a pledge."
Farina and St. Louis Blues fan and Air Force reservist Dennis Seals have developed a website, noNHLlockout.com, and are calling for a day of "hockey solidarity" on March 18. Participants around the world are being asked to wear NHL team sweaters or colours that day, indulge in some form of ice, street or roller hockey or attend one of 87 professional games going on across North America that day. Demonstrations are planned for New York and Toronto.
But Farina first wanted his group to have a say today when the owners meet in New York and the players in Toronto.
"I would ask, who is representing the fans?" Farina said. "I have continually heard statements like, 'This is similar to taxation without representation.' "
Farina's group, while unlikely to achieve their goal of forcing a collective bargaining agreement by June 1, says it's getting plenty of response in the U.S., where there's potential for the most damage with fans.