PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) - Something struck me on the front of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today.
And it should have struck you, too, if you saw the newspaper.
Seems the people in charge of the Tampa Bay Lightning are worried about something pretty darn petty and are going to great lengths to preserve it --- but the National Hockey League is sitting on its collective hands and just letting them.
From the Post-Gazette: "The Tampa Bay Lightning has barred fans from wearing visiting team gear in select areas of Amalie Arena during the 2015-16 playoffs, including seats in the first two rows and other high-priced sections."
The newspaper report continues to describe what's barred from certain seating areas as you can't wear clothing: "branded with the name, logo, or registered mark(s) of the then-current 2015-2016 playoff opponent of the Lightning."
This would include Penguins merchandise as they head to Tampa --- an area with many transplanted Pittsburghers --- later on in the week to continue the Eastern Conference Finals.
This isn't the first time the Lightning have done this, as it has been their policy for more than a year.
It's garbage, pure and utter garbage --- even if it only impacts a few select seats in the arena and doesn't control all that many people.
It's petty, screams of an inferiority complex and is an exact microcosm that sums up why there really isn't a need for the NHL to be in Florida.
A stronger fan base in a real NHL city wouldn't feel threatened by someone wearing the colors of an opponent.
This practice also is something the Lightning aren't alone in being at fault for. The NHL could, and should, stop it.
You know why? Because the NHL is being hypocritical to a huge degree here. Big, fat hypocrites, I say.
Go ahead and click on the Pittsburgh Penguins website and you can easily navigate to a place where you can buy all kinds of Penguins merchandise.
There are pajamas.
There is drinkware.
There are license plates and frames.
There are kitchen towels and golf towels and beach towels.
Know what else there are?
Jerseys. Lots of them.
A quick check Monday afternoon had the ultra-snazzy Sidney Crosby or Kris Letang official Reebok one going for $169. You could pick up an awesome, black Mario Lemieux throwback one for $184.99.
You might already own one or be thinking about buying one for this playoff run. Now, I don't know about the particular breakdown of the funds, but I do know if you drop good money on one of these great sweaters, the National Hockey League --- as a parent company of sorts --- realizes some sort of economic windfall from it.
In short, the NHL makes money off you purchasing their officially licensed merchandise.
Know where you can't wear that officially licensed merchandise later on this week? Inside certain places at an actual NHL game.
Read those last two sentences slowly again, because they seem unfathomable.
Think about that hypocrisy for a moment if you would – the NHL has no problem separating you from your money, but they have a big problem telling the Tampa Bay Lightning (a member organization) that their policy is garbage.
What a bunch of greedy hypocrites in this instance.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 "The Fan." You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.
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