It’s a Lockout! (As Expected)
As it has been assumed for the last few months, the NHL has officially come to a lockout after the owners and the NHL Players Association failed to come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement on Saturday.
The NHL released this official statement after the lockout began:
“Despite the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams.
Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum. While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the League’s economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players — as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players’ Association seven years ago. Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused negotiation — not through rhetoric.
This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, not on a meeting room. The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans.”
The players responded by releasing a video, which you can check out here.
This is now the third lockout under current commissioner Gary Bettman. The first, which took place before the ’94-’95 season, caused the season to be nearly halved. The second took place during what would have been the ’04-’05 season, which was ultimately cancelled.
Considering this harmonious history between the NHLPA and NHL owners, it appeared that a lockout was inevitable when Bettman said in August:
“We recovered last time because we have the greatest fans in the world.”
That sounds like a pretty sunny description of missing an entire season
As Travis Hughes explained in his interesting piece about the lockout, and this is important to remember, the fans are like points in “Whose Line is it Anyway”. They don’t matter.
What it comes down to is that the owners are using the lockout as a means of putting pressure on the players. Compared to other professional leagues, hockey players aren’t paid as spectacularly as you might imagine. So, by essentially withholding their game checks, the idea is that the players will blink and settle for a more advantageous deal in the owners favor.
As a result, expect to hear about some players going overseas to play hockey in the meantime. (In regards to the good old home team, we’ll update you on the comings and goings of Flyers players as things begin to really shake out.)
As of now, notable stars such as Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Ovechkin have expressed interest in playing in Europe, but who knows whether or not they’ll actually pull the trigger on that.
Basically, this lockout business is an ugly beast and everyone wants to hockey this fall. So here’s to hoping that they don’t lose too much time over these negotiations.