by Patrick Hoffman on 08/13/12 at 03:53 PM ET
When it comes to our favorite sport, it seems like almost everyone has a voice whether it is the league, the players association or the media.
With that said, there is one important group in hockey that also also has a voice but yet, it does not get recognized as one and and that is the fans. As it turns out, one person who has been trying to make that happen is Jim Boone, co-founder of the NHLFA (National Hockey League Fans Association).
Jim was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into the game of hockey, how the NHLFA got started and what he hopes to accomplish with it.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
JB: I have been playing and watching hockey since I was four years old in Ottawa. My earliest recollection of hockey is playing tyke hockey in 1972 in an old arena in west Ottawa and watching the Summit Series that year (I was born in 1967).
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player?
JB: I was mainly a Habs’ fans. I had the great fortune of enjoying great Montreal hockey in the 1970s. Dryden was my favourite player, but Robinson, Shutt, Lafleur, Cournoyer, Lemaire, Lapointe were close seconds. Oh, and also Bunny Larocque was a favourite.
Outside of Habsville, I liked Chico Resch, Darryl Sittler, Lanny MacDonald, Mike Palmateer, Bobby Hull and Stan Makita. Are you sorry you asked?
PH: How did you come up with the idea to start the NHLFA?
JB: In 1998, a colleague/friend (Jim Spendlove) and I were working for a big telecommunications company in the communications department. Over morning coffees, we hatched the idea to start a non-profit organization to represent the fans, the people who were under-represented and the lifeblood of the game.
PH: What is the NHLFA designed to do?
JB: Represent the fans, however, it been a really difficult thing to do. It has cost me (and a few others) a big bundle of money keeping it going. Few corporate sponsors are brave enough to support an advocacy group, plus the NHL has the right to veto corporate sponsorship deals we arrange. They have done this in the past to us. It’s not easy keeping this organization alive and afloat.
PH: How does the NHLFA help both the league and its fans?
JB: The NHLFA is (hopefully) a voice of reason in a sea (players and owners) focused on money. If the NHL was more receptive, the NHLFA could be a leader in data collection and analysis and a true representative group. The NHL is not at all supportive of our efforts. It’s sad, but since 1998 the League has simply tolerated our existence. This is not a smart way of doing business in my opinion.
PH: Have you ever had a conversation with Mr. Bettman about the NHLFA and what you can do for the league? If so, how did that go?
JB: I have spoken to Mr. Bettman on a number of occaisions. I only received glad handing and lip service after proposing many ideas that would benefit both the League and our association.
PH: With both the NHL and NHLPA currently reviewing the CBA, how does the NHLFA plan to be involved, if at all?
JB: Energy and time permitting, we hope to be an influential voice for the fans. We hope to collect primary data and share that with stakeholders in the game.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
JB: Fans need a united voice. We have over 30,000 members in our community. Please consider joining our team at nhlfa.com. Thanks, KK.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.