It’s that wonderful time of year again. The weather is getting colder and the NFL along with NCAA are well into their football seasons. It can mean only one thing, time to sharpen your skates and tape up your sticks so you can watch…nothing. Once again the NHL is making about as much sense as Nick Saban and Lebron James hosting a reality show about loyalty. What do you do with a sports league that is finally recovered from the missed season the last time a lockout happened in 2004? You lock out the players again.
For the (who really cares) time in (I couldn’t care less) amount of years, fans of the fastest game on Earth are stuck wondering why. I almost understand the last time a lockout happened in the NHL, they were suffering from not having a salary cap and quite frankly something had to be done. The part that left me along with millions of other hockey fans scratching their heads was why did it take a whole season for a cap to be implemented. The reason is really quite simple, it’s because the owners and the players sat on their hands for an entire season locking out a lock out by watching millions of dollars disappear and players such as Brett Hull return for a staggering five games instead of a full farewell tour that he had earned over the course of his brilliant career.
Finally after a missed season the NHLPA bought into the owners ingenious plan, the same plan that the owners are now saying is worth locking players out over. Now I’m not completely siding with the players on this one but being that the lockout happened only eight short seasons ago it is completely mind-blowing that the NHL would go through the same thing again.
Let’s look at what happened post the last lockout. The NHL lost all of its TV contracts. Anybody remember National Hockey Night on ESPN and ABC with Gary Thorne and Bill Clement? I must admit although I have clearly stated my opinion of ESPN, they were a hockey broadcasting match made in heaven and was certainly better than the glowing puck that FOX used in the mid to late ’90s. After the NHL came back for the 2005-2006 season they were restricted to Outdoor Network, a network that wasn’t carried by anyone. The NHL will lead you to believe that they rebounded with mind staggering attendance numbers after the missed season by their passionate fans although one wonders how much of this has to do with the passionate fans not being able to see any games outside of the local markets. I know that if I couldn’t watch any hockey on TV I would be willing to plan a vacation or road trip around a hockey weekend and I wonder how many other fans made that sacrifice as well.
Fast forward to now and Outdoor Network which evolved to Versus and now NBC Sports due to the popularity of the NHL and combine that with the majority of households that currently own HD televisions. Is it any wonder that hockey is at an all time high in popularity? So like any smart business when you’re at a peak in your existence, they locked the doors.
In my opinion the numbers really don’t mean a lot as far as why this lockout is happening. If you break it down it is basically over $600 million, which although a major chuck of change could cost the league much more than that. You want the break down? In 2004-2005 the owners for some reason gave the players the majority of the revenue and after eight years finally discovered you can’t run a league if you are paying the players the majority of the money. The players are getting more of the revenue to play and the owners are paying for their salaries, their hotels, and their charter jets so the owners want the majority of the revenue and the players of course don’t want to give it up. That’s it so now let’s have nobody make money at all, that is the best solution. Yeah I want money too but I don’t make millions or billions of dollars. I get my enjoyment watching you guys apparently do nothing.
The owners, in all honesty are right for wanting a bigger piece of the pie. I hate to say it but they are. They are the ones who are fronting all the money. The players are right for not wanting their contracts slashed. Trust me I’m a teacher and I’ve seen my income shrink year after year but the owners are trying to slash more and the players don’t want to give up as much. I just want a damn $12 Labatt Blue inside the comfort of an NHL arena from my $70 seats. Oh that’s right I’m being locked out too.
Here is what neither side wants you to know. Nobody is doing anything. They once again are sitting on their hands waiting for the other side to make a move. Speaking of teachers, anyone pay attention to what just happened in Chicago? Those teachers were getting screwed so they went on strike and after not even a week and a half they were able to work out an agreement. What a concept the two sides did this little thing called negotiating.
Why do I hate everyone involved with the NHL right now? First off the owners (allegedly) tried to get the negotiating going at the beginning of last season and the players waited and waited and made their majority of the pie until the last possible second. Second the players who said they would rather play under the current system are being locked out by the owners so thank you to the owners for not just playing. Then again of course the players will play making the majority of the money. But then you have owners like James Dolan who owns the Rangers and would rather just play under the current system instead of the lockout. Yeah and you also own one of the most profitable clubs in the NHL in one of the biggest cities in the country. That is quite different from John P. McConnell who owns the ever so profitable Columbus Blue Jackets and is literally losing millions of dollars. So the owners want to slash the players salaries. It sure is a good thing that they spent the entire offseason signing players to record-setting contracts that they apparently never had any intention of paying. Like I said I currently hate everyone. All well at least the fans in Toronto aren’t suffering anymore than if their disaster of a team was actually on the ice.
That’s it we are back to the best solution possible, lock out everyone, especially the fans and not negotiate. Gary Bettman has said he is ready to talk anytime, anywhere but I’m sure he is isn’t calling Donald Fehr at all. So far the NHL has cancelled every September preseason game. I know who cares about the preseason? For one I do. As a fan in Orlando I was going to get to watch the Tampa Bay Lightning play the Carolina Hurricanes right down the road instead of driving two hours and getting home at midnight on a work night.
Oh and speaking of the Lightning I’m so happy to see that you are still calling me on a daily basis to see if I want to renew my season tickets. Of course I want to renew my season tickets, here is a huge chunk of my salary so I can watch everyone do nothing! Ok I guess the season ticket agent is doing something but like I said I hate everyone so that includes you too.
If there is anyone that I feel sorry for it is the people like my agent who is still trying to work and is getting either hung up on or people’s voicemail. If the NHL has done something it is cut the hours of lots of their employees. Families who had a five-day a week job are now working four days a week and getting laid off at an alarming rate. Even the mascot for the Florida Panthers got fired and you know all the hard-working nine to fivers aren’t making millions or billions of dollars. They like myself just want to watch the sport that we all love so hopefully the people who are currently doing nothing will get off their million and billion dollar seats and for a change do something. Let’s play hockey!