113 days have passed. 113 days where the only meaningful negotiations took place in a span of 5-6 days. The NHL lockout has ended after 113 days pending final paperwork. What does this mean for you the hockey fan? Unlike the previous NHL lockouts there seems to be something different about the resolve of this one. Both the NHL and NHLPA have alienated NHL hockey fans with a lack of concern for the good of he game. The business of hockey has replaced the dream that so many players in Canada and perhaps the US dream about, to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup above their heads. For some reason this hockey fan is not as excited s he thought he would be will the announcement of a new CBA between the players and the League. Glad to have NHL hockey back? Sure, but I must say that I have enjoyed following the Western Hockey League and to an extent the AHL with no NHL action. I am a fan of the Edmonton Oilers. Their roster now filled with youthful talent should make them a contender in the years ahead. Sure they might be a couple of defensemen and a goaltender away from winning it all, but they should be able to contend not only for a playoff spot but the Stanley Cup. Frankly I am tired of the team’s sub-par performance over the past 10-15 years. Enough is enough.
So 113 days later, are the hockey fans better off? We know that the League and the NHLPA are better off. A new 10-year collective bargaining agreement has been reached so what? See you in eight years when the players will again be looking to revisit the CBA at that time. Can either side claim victory from this lockout? Well ever heard of the saying “the rich get richer…”? Of course they can while it was great to see both sides lose millions of dollars over issues that could have been sorted out prior to the September 15th deadline, the process of agreeing to a new agreement has done some damage to the great game of hockey.
We saw millionaire players jump ship and head over to Europe to take jobs from other players, players who do not have hefty contracts but are still trying to make a living. We saw numerous concession and arena workers be laid off in an economy this makes it difficult for the average Joe or Jill to provide for their families at the best of times. The end result is just so players and owners can equally share a multi-billion pot of revenue dollars. Revenue that comes from the average Joe or Jill who buys a jersey, attends a game, buys a pack of Upper Deck hockey cards etc. The whole process and bickering was quite sickening actually. To think that the employees were earning 57% of revenues clearly illustrated the need to get to a least a 50/50 split. So was this worth locking the players out? In a way yes. Today’s generation seems to have this sense of entitlement. Players in today’s game seem to think they deserve three houses with an annual average salary of $2.5 million. Really? Players making millions not to play in the NHL (see Yashin, Redden etc.) Players who play four to six minutes a game and earn millions per year (too many to mention). Yes these are the reason hockey fans go to an NHL game. It makes me a little sick to my stomach. I work hard to provide for my family. You work hard to provide and contribute to yours. Things like entertainment help folks like us take our minds off of some of our everyday worries and concerns. For 113 days the entertainment value of the NHL has been nil… and perhaps for a lot longer than that. So the 2012 NHL lockout is over, now what? What is the League and the NHLPA going to do to make it up to me and you the hockey fan? Do they even care? Most hockey fans in Canada will be back, so is it just a matter or what and see for the league? As a hockey fan I feel a sense of entitlement. Not just to watch a watered-down product that features team in Columbus, Florida, and Dallas. I want the NHL back that I grew up watching in the eighties. The dynasty years of my Edmonton Oilers. Where it cost a buck to buy a pack of hockey cards. Where I could get tickets to the game and go with my dad, have a burger and watch the games greatest players play for under $100. These days are gone. So I yet again ask, how is the NHL going to make it up to me? The product itself is simply not good enough. I want something more. NHL and players of he NHL, I want you to communicate how you expect me to welcome you back as if any of this simply did not happen?
The end of the 2012 NHL Lockout… what is next? A one week training camp and then a 48 to 52 game season? Big deal. Make me want to love you again NHL. Right now I’m just not that into you.