Wait it out–no NHL in November, and no one is talking either
Okay so, maybe we lied. Maybe the NHL really does want to be this bad at everything.
National Hockey League games have already been cancelled for the month of November, eliminating all hope of a regular 82-game season. Threats have already been made to cancel the NHL All-Star game and the Winter Classic. Hockey fans can settle in for an entire month, now, knowing that the game will not be back until at least December, if at all.
Frustration has long gone past the point of being palpable. Of course you can feel it. If you love hockey, you’re running out of reasons to trust the league.
One of the warning signs over the summer was the way that contracts kept going down. It was common knowledge that one of the owners’ points of contention was contract structure, such as how long and for how much. Owners wanted shorter contract lengths, higher ages and more time in the league required for unrestricted free agency. Contracts would also need to promise less money, since the players would be contractually entitled to a smaller percentage of revenue.
Yet the owners continued to sign deals under the wire of the existing CBA’s expiration date that would have violated the very terms they advocated for, taking advantage of conditions that were favorable when they served their needs. When Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed in Minnesota to play for the Wild, they signed enormous contracts, 13 years in length, that would keep them in Minneapolis for the foreseeable future. But they might not put the jersey on anytime soon. The CBA that the owners want would reduce the share of revenue that is permitted to go towards player contracts. The change would take money out of the contracts that Parise and Suter already signed.
In an interview with ESPN The Magazine, Suter cried foul at Wild owner Craig Leipold: “At the time he said everything was fine. Yeah, it’s disappointing. A couple months before, everything is fine, and now they want to take money out of our contracts that we already signed.”
One could infer Leipold drew the players in with $98 million apiece, knowing that if the owners got their way, he would not be obligated to fully pay out aside from the $10 million signing bonus that Suter and Parise each received. Other long-term contracts signed before the deadline could be affected, including the 12-year deal signed by Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby. It seems unlikely that the owners proffered forth that amount of money as a mistake, unaware of how a potential new CBA might affect it. The players, too, might have done better to be skeptical about what they were signing in light of impending labor negotiations.
Longtime Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller also spoke to ESPN The Magazine, stating that the two sides are so close that continuing to miss games is “insane,” and that the continued lack of agreement is “just to satisfy egos, not the needs of either side.” It would seem that he is right, with such a huge piece of the puzzle being found to have an amicable compromise a mere week ago. But no one is speaking. That is why it is so hard to come up with news about this topic: no one is speaking.
But other things are in the woodwork. The New York Islanders announced into a dead calm of NHL news that they would begin playing in Brooklyn for the 2015-2016 season. KHL games which were supposed to be played at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn arena slated to house the Islanders, were cancelled and moved back to Russia. The NHL and the Islanders are trying to make the Uniondale team, often in the basement of the Atlantic Division, into a moneymaker, and the KHL is keeping itself well out of North American business.
It will indeed be a miracle if we see an NHL game before next October. Fans will just have to keep praying until somebody in the NHL, player or owner, loses the staring contest.