Sunday, September 16, 2012

Trying to Make Sense of the NHL Lockout

Oh boy, it's like 2004 all over again...

At midnight last night, the NHL once again locked out their players, and it appears that hockey fans are ready to have another long work stoppage ahead of them. If you're leeping score at home, this is the third lockout in 18 years under the reign of commissionor Gary Bettman. The 1994-95 season was cut in half, while the 2004-05 season was wiped out completely, but there are some major differences between the last lockout and this one. For starters, the last lockout HAD to happen in order to fix the sport and the league for the better. A hard salary cap was implemented, in an effort to make small market teams competitive in a league that unneccessarily 30 teams. Now here we are in 2012, and having another lockout happen for few more reasons than the owners biting themselves in the ass.

With the implementation of a salary cap on the league, owners and GM's were limited on how much they could throw at players in order to build a contender, so something was created in order to lower a player's cap hit while getting away with paying them a shit load of money in the first few years of the deal: the super long 10-15 year contract that pretty much circumvents the cap. We saw a few deals like that this past summer with the dual deals Minnesota handed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, as well as the offer sheet thrown at Shea Weber by Philadelphia, which Nashville surprisingly matched. Add to that the list of players that have ridiculously long contracts that are only structured as such to reduce their respective cap hits (Rick DiPietro, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Tyler Myers, Christian Ehroff, Marian Hossa, Brad Richards, Roberto Luongo, Niklas Backstrom, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and more) and what we really have here are GM's and owners that need to be saved from themselves. They got themselves into this mess, and now they want to reduce the player's shared revenue because they fucked up and just want to cover their own asses.

There's a little more to the proceedings than all the GM/owner bullshit I mentioned above, as a good chunk of it boils down to Bettman not wanting to come close to anything related to a compromise with the NHLPA. With the League's yearly revenue at a record 3.3 billion, the NHL has never prospered so much as a whole ever before. Granted there are plenty of teams that are still (and always have) suffering from a lack of a fanbase (Phoenix, Columbus) but the NHL should count their blessings that fans came back in droves after the 04-05 lockout with arms wide open. If this lockout lasts a full season, don't expect the fans to come back like they did before, and I for one wouldn't blame them. In fact, if this lockout kills the whole season, I think I may even take a break from my beloved NHL watching. Though honestly I don't think it will last the whole season, mostly because there's so much more to lose this time around (The Winter Classic, HBO's 24/7) it's still fucking unbelievable that we're going through this bullshit AGAIN...but here we are.

Somebody needs to lock Bettman and NHLPA head Don Fehr in a room together and let them come to a fucking agreement. The fact that we're here again is not only mind-numbing, but fucking revolting. Play some goddamned hockey!

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