The NHL Lockout

Is it just me, or was this lockout more of a surprise than both the NBA and NFL lockouts? The NFL lockout you knew was going to happen, but you also knew was going to be resolved before the season started. The NBA lockout was expected, and there was even the potential for a lost season. The NHL lockout? Didn’t we just have one of those?

That was really the only thought I had when it become obvious that this was going to be an issue. The entire time I thought: isn’t hockey doing great right now? Hasn’t it accomplished almost everything it could’ve hoped for after the last lockout? Do they really want to risk that growth now, especially after they saw what happened after the last one?

After the last lockout the NHL lost their deal with ESPN. In their place? College football. While never completely forgotten, the NHL clearly felt like it was just on a different level from what became the major three team sports in America: baseball, basketball, and football.

Slowly things turned around. The rule changes implemented after the lockout made the game faster and more exciting. There was more parity in the league, and exciting playoff finishes each season. NBC just put together a new sports channel (cleverly titled NBC Sports) with hockey as its main draw. The NBA and NFL lockouts gave the NHL some good will back from fans. It made their lockout seem a little more excusable, and made them seem like the stable league since there was no way they would have another lockout so soon (stupid, stupid, stupid).

Now I’m just at a loss. This entire situation seems like it was avoidable.

One look at the NHL’s original proposal could make you laugh out loud. I swear, I thought it was a joke. To me it reads like this: Hey players, there will be a lockout this season.

How else do you explain the owners demanding a player cut in profit percent from around 60% to almost as low as 40%? All this while extending the years a player has till he reaches unrestricted free agency, and eliminating arbitration. It is just too much, and entirely unreasonable to expect the players to accept it. Didn’t they just agree to a salary cap? Baby steps people.

This isn’t to say I feel badly for the players, simply that I don’t really see what they could’ve done differently.

Once again, though, the ultimate losers are the fans. Honestly, this is probably the most infuriating lockout of the three. Now, I haven’t sat in on any negotiations. I haven’t talked to anyone involved in negotiations (100% to do with the fact that I’m one of a large number of people who paid the minimal fee to have their own low traffic blog on the internet) so take what I say with a grain of salt. To me, it is beyond insulting. It is saying that there is absolutely zero thought for the fans. I see this as the owners observing the NFL and NBA lockout their players, get what they wanted, and, in the end, not lose any fan support. They see us as a group they can abuse all they want, because in the end they know we’ll be back.

They’re right. When the lockout ends, I will no doubt be watching the Rangers again. That doesn’t mean the whole situation doesn’t make me angry. Worse it almost makes me apathetic. I haven’t paid much attention to the lockout. This after reading articles every day on the NFL and NBA ones. Right now, I don’t care about the NHL. Still love hockey. Can’t wait to make it to my undergrad to see some D-I hockey. Might even check out some AHL games, and I’m currently interning with a Junior Hockey team. But the NHL I’ll live without. What’s the point in doing anything differently.

This lockout was completely avoidable. Having one shows a complete lack of respect for the fans, the players, and the NHL product itself. Apparently all of it is worth risking to make more money.

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