The National Hockey League lockout might be costing owners and players millions of dollars, but it's actually helped put money in the pocket of a Chilliwack high school student with a entrepreneurial idea.
Austin McGregor, a Grade 11 student at Chilliwack senior secondary school, says he has sold "a couple hundred" wristbands touting the slogan "Lockout Bettman!" referring to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The enterprise began as a project for McGregor's Grade 12 entrepreneurship class, but it's exceeded all of his teacher's expectations and netted the 16-year-old some cash.
"The response has been good," McGregor said. Through his website, www.lockoutbettman.com, more than 200 people have signed McGregor's online petition and bought his wristbands, which cost $2.99 each.
In September, Matthew Ferris challenged McGregor and his fellow entrepreneurship students to look beyond the usual bake sales and landscaping companies when it came to building a business for the class.
McGregor took the advice to heart. "I wanted to make something that could help make change," he said.
A diehard Canucks fan who plays midget hockey, McGregor's usual TV diet of fall hockey has been placed in jeopardy by NHL owners' desire to reduce the amount of money they have to pay players. It's also stoked his animus towards Bettman, who represents the owners.
For a young hockey lover like McGregor, a second lockout in six years was two too much to take, and it gave him his idea.
"The idea was to band the fans together through the petition and the bracelets to hopefully make some change in the NHL," McGregor told the Times.
"It represents the idea of the fans being fed up with some of the stuff that Gary Bettman has done."
It's a big goal for a teenager far removed from the centre of a billion-dollar business, but it's already received media attention and McGregor has shipped wristbands to addresses across North America.
McGregor has been trying to draw the support of NHL players, but despite using Twitter to try and contact them, he has yet to get a bite. Still, he doesn't sound too disappointed and says that for an NHL player to essentially call for the firing of the boss of all hockey bosses would be a particularly bold move.
Still, he says, "hopefully we can get a response. Even [a response] from one player would make this go through the roof in my eyes."
Ferris, meanwhile, has already judged his student's business a success.
"He's been doing really well," he said. "He's shipping his bracelets out like crazy right now. He's sending them to the States and the east coast of Canada and to Montreal.
"It's just been really amazing, and I'm showing that stuff to the rest of the class and they're realizing that if Austin can do it, why can't I do it?"
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