Now Showing: NHL Lockout Part III

Posted: September 18, 2012 in Flyers

In one corner, the National Hockey League and its owners, led by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (left). In the other corner, the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) led by the head of the NHLPA Donald Fehr (right). (Photo courtesy of the Detroit Free Press)

 

The National Hockey League’s collective bargaining agreement expired on Sunday at 12:00 midnight,  sending the NHL into yet another lockout.

This is the 4th work stoppage since 1992 and the third lockout under current NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. (In baseball, three strikes and you’re out. I am not sure if there is a three lockouts and you’re out rule regarding the commissioner. If not, there probably should be.)

So here we are. Once again, there is no hockey.

Why? Some people blame the owners, some blame the players, and some feel that it is a combination of the two. Truth be told, the issue at hand in these labor discussions has been hockey related revenue (HRR), which is basically any money generated from an NHL game, player appearance, or any NHL-sponsored event. Under the current CBA, the players are getting a 57% share of HRR, with the rest going to the league and the owners. The owners feel that too much is going to the players, and all of their proposals would bring the players share down to under 50%.

While the players are willing to play the upcoming season under the old CBA, while negotiations of a new CBA take place, the league and owners declined, opting instead to lockout the players.

Now, As day 2 of the lockout becomes day 3, there have been no new negotiations (and no saying as to how long this lockout is going to last). One thing that is for sure is that NHL fans, which are some of the most loyal fans in all of sports, are now deprived of hockey for the second time in 8 years.

One would think that the NHL would find a better way to reward its loyal, passionate fan base (a fan base which helped the NHL generate approximately $3.3 billion (with a b) in revenue last season). Then again, as commissioner Gary Bettman said “We recovered last time because we have the greatest fans in the world”. If the league actually wanted to show appreciation to the fans, they would not be content with locking out the players while assuming that the fans will comeback no matter what. Let’s be honest, that quote from Bettman pretty much made a lockout inevitable.

It is very frustrating time to be a hockey fan right now. The league is better on the ice than it has ever been, and yet the league is depriving the fans of the one thing that keeps them coming back: hockey. Now that there (once again) is no hockey, I am not sure how many fans will be back. The worst part is that we seemingly have to sit and wait for something to happen.

If there is any kind of silver lining to this mess, it is that the league/owners and the players will try to get a deal done before they have to cancel the annual Winter Classic (or so we think). This season, the Detroit Red Wings are scheduled to face the Toronto Maple Leafs at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Stadium (known as “The Big House” it has a seating capacity of over 110,000. Multiply that by whatever they are charging for tickets and you get a whole lot of revenue).

Opening night is schedule for October 11th. At this point, an October 11, 2012 start to the season is highly unlikely.

Let’s just hope that the start of the season is not delayed until October 11th 2013.

Until then, as legendary Flyers announcer Gene Hart would say, “Good night, and good hockey”.

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