No end in sight to NHL Lockout

By Perry Dague
Round Table Reporter

Back in the fall of 2004, National Hockey League fans were experiencing the same feelings they are today. Die-hard fans have to suffer because of the greed and egos of NHL owners and players. No games to look forward to, no bone crunching hits, no late game-winning goals and no Stanley Cup.

This is the second time in the past eight seasons that the NHL had to cancel at least a portion of its season because the players and owners could not agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. The last instance resulted in the entire 2004-2005 season being cancelled and it appears as if the same could easily happen to this season.

The labor dispute began on Sept. 15 just before midnight. The main conflict is that the owners want to reduce the players’ share of 57 percent of NHL-related revenues, eliminate salary arbitration and change free agency rules.

Whether the players or the owners end up getting the short end of the stick, the real losers here are the fans. Without the fans, the NHL would not exist. There would be no money for these people to argue over. No, ice hockey isn’t as popular in North America as football, baseball or basketball, but there are still many dedicated fans out there, including me.

It isn’t all too surprising or uncommon that this is happening. Most of The National Football League’s offseason was cancelled in 2011, but league officials were able to come to an agreement in time before any games were tarnished.  The National Basketball Association also was locked out for 161 days during the summer of 2011 into the winter, and its regular season was reduced from 82 games to 66.

On Nov. 2, the annual Winter Classic, which was scheduled to be between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings on New Year’s Day 2013, was cancelled. This is especially disappointing for fans because it is one of the most unique hockey games in the most unique outdoor environment. Then, on Nov. 23, all games originally scheduled through Dec. 14 were cancelled.

It seems that greed, pride and egos have become the big issue.  It makes me as a fan feel pretty disrespected knowing that owners and players care more about money than the fans who pay their hard-earned money to give the league revenue in the first place.

“I am officially no longer an NHL fan. If they’re going to waste my time, then I’m not going to dedicate my time to them,” said Middletown High School computer graphics teacher and avid hockey fan John Mattingly. “I think the chances of the entire season being cancelled are very high. It’s almost December and the Winter Classic and a handful of other games have already been cancelled.”

Mattingly also said that he would still follow the Hershey Bears, who are the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Washington Capitals.

 

The owners and players don’t realize how much money they make compared to the rest of society. As big of a hockey fan as I am, it is still just entertainment, even though to some it is more than just that. There are men and women who are risking their lives overseas who don’t make anywhere near as much money as professional athletes.

To some, that there is another lockout after having one just eight years ago may be surprising, but there were still many unresolved issues after the 2004 lockout. In fact, this is the third time in 19 years there has been a work stoppage since Gary Bettman became NHL commissioner in 1993.

The likelihood of a season actually taking place becomes slimmer with each passing day. No significant progress has been made between the two parties up to this point, but hockey fans all over America and Canada remain hopeful.