Now, I know what some of you are thinking. If we had so much to learn from the KHL, SM-liiga, and the other Euro leagues, then why are so many of their best players playing over here in the NHL? This lesson we in the NHL could learn is not so much about organization, or tactics on the ice, or how they act as a team. The lesson I think we can learn from them is how as fans, players, and owners react and treat each other as fellow human beings. (Yes, Boston faithful, I can understand a point or two on your side that might not regard Jeremy Jacobs as ‘human’. For others, I can see one or more of your points feeling the same way about Bettman.)
This is the last of my posts for 2012, and I want to reflect on how badly things have gone regarding the lockout. Players calling the commissioner ‘stupid’ and much worse. Owners calling their players ‘cattle’. The NHL believing that all this damage to the revenue stream and the fan base can be fixed once they have hockey again. (If that’s not calling us morons, I don’t know what is.) The fan base calling Bettman everything from greedy to the anti-Christ. It lowers all of us. (Lord knows, I’m just as guilty as the next man.) This is the lesson we need to learn(or re-learn).
The following is an open letter from the ownership of the Swiss hockey club EHC Biel/Bienne. It was sent out in the hopes it would reach Boston Bruins’ own Tyler Seguin. This is probably one of the nicest, and most sincere letter of thanks and hopes for good fortune that I’ve ever read. It was not made to generate buzz, dollars(or euros), or to be used for self-aggrandizement. It was sent out to tell a young man thank you for coming half a world away and showing a lot of people the potential for hockey. If a few more owners could have an attitude that vaguely resembled this, the current CBA disaster and the ensuing lockout likely could have been stopped.
Thank you Tyler Seguin
On 25 September you landed in Biel. A shy young man at first sight and after the first interviews. The first practice has already shown: What you will show us is Hockey at it’s finest. You played 29 Games for EHC Biel, scored 40 points. This alone says enough. But anyone who has seen and followed you through all these weeks can now really understand what hockey can be. Fine art. Sometimes you have taken a lot of risk, some passes didn’t arrive. Normal, you are only about 21 years old.
On January 31 exactly on the same day that our Biel-born player Gaëtan Haas will get 21 years old. We would have liked to see you two together celebrating this anniversary with the team. Well you left us. We can not be angry. The contract expired, and you did not want to sign a contract till the end of the lockout. You will not only be remembered as the young man from Canada with the whimsical smile. What you have shown us on the ice, your speed, your technique, your eye for the right thing at the right moment and not least your hard shot, all this is unmatched in the 73-year history of EHC Biel.
In other words, dear Tyler Seguin, you’ve made history in Biel. Even though you’ll probably never see this place again, we hope that you take one or the other positive memory with you to Boston. I’m sure one or the other people from the Seeland-region in Biel will come visit you in the National Hockey League. In order to remember a time that will never be forgotten. Thank you Tyler, all the best.
In the thirty years I have been in the workforce, I’ve only been given one going away party in my life, and it was more like a beer or two after my last shift. Tyler Seguin was there for three months, and he made an impression that will last a lifetime. Tyler Seguin is one of the most gifted players in the league, and he will be the face of the franchise one day (This means DO NOT TRADE him Cam!). I wish the lesson we can take from this is that civility has become a lost art. I only hope in 2013 that art form can have a Renaissance.