NHL lockout: What now?
It is a hockey fan’s worst nightmare. The current NHL season is locked out. The first two weeks of the regular season have been canceled. What now?
The players need to keep their game going and stay in shape. The only way they can do that is by playing elsewhere. That is why many of our favorite players have gone overseas to continue playing. This is really good for the players to keep doing what they love, but there are some big issues that are related to this.
It is possible that players will get hurt while playing overseas. If this is the case, and the regular NHL season starts up, there could be a larger injury list than if they were not playing right now. This already seems to be an issue that the Boston Bruins may be facing, as rumors of Tuukka Rask having a serious groin injury were flying around. According to his agent, he has no serious injuries at this time. Just because the rumor of Rask being seriously injured turned out to be false, does not mean that other players are not or will not get hurt while playing during the lockout.
Another problem with this season being locked out is that players may decide not to come back once the lockout is over.
“What we are offered now isn’t serious,” New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk told RT.com. “Alex Ovechkin and I agree on this. I already discussed this matter with him as well as with Evgeny Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Bryzgalov. We’ll wait for other proposals. In the meantime, we are all happy here [in the KHL]. If the conditions in the NHL will be unclear, many guys will think twice whether to return there or not.”
Many players, like Kovalchuk, say they feel like this lockout is not helping anyone. Boston Bruin David Krejci said he feels like they are being treated badly by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“We want to play, we’re the ones who are doing the show in the NHL, but Bettman thinks it makes him. It is unfortunate that the NHL have such a guy. It’s a shame for the entire hockey world. Treats us like animals,” Krejci told NBC Sports.
Owners and coaches may be disappointed if some of their players do not return, but the fans will miss them the most. If their favorite players decide to stay overseas, even if the NHL lockout ends, some fans may decide to not watch the season anyway. This could seriously damage the NHL fan base.
This is a frustrating time for the fans. Back in 2004 when the season was locked out, the NHL lost many fans. The NHL has seen a huge increase in revenue since the lockout in ’04 ended. Hockey was weaseling its way into “the big three” of sports, and right when it was almost there, the season gets locked out again. If the issues between the players and owners do not get resolved, there will likely be a decrease in the fan base for the following season. Revenues will be down as well, which would upset everyone.
Even President Barack Obama has something to say about this stalemate that is the NHL lockout. Jay Leno read Obama a fan question about the NHL lockout when he was on The Tonight Show on October 24. The question was, “Can you pull some strings to end the NHL lockout?”
Obama answered, “Every time these things happen, I just want to remind the owners and the players, you guys make money because you’ve got a whole bunch of fans out there who are working really hard, they buy tickets, they’re watching on TV. Y’all should be able to figure this out. Get this done.”
So what do we do now?
Now we sit and wait patiently for both sides to meet and negotiate a deal so that the NHL season can start. The owners put a 50-50 agreement on the table, but then retracted that on Thursday, which was the deadline for an agreement in order to have a full season.
Since an agreement was not reached, the NHL has canceled all games up until November 30. This makes a grand total of 326 games in all that have been canceled.
One thing is for sure: both sides need to sit down and talk. Nobody can expect a deal to be agreed upon until both sides meet again. Right now, there are no meetings scheduled.