I share many of your frustrations with the current state of affairs in the NHL.
It's been written in this space before, so I won't waste much of your time rehashing it.
- The current lockout situation is completely avoidable.
- The players and owners are both responsible in their own way for the mess that's been created.
- We've known this was coming for some time, but at no point has either side really put any effort into talks, it seems.
- Despite a Sept. 15 end date for the most recent collective bargaining agreement, neither side has shown any sense of urgency.
- The entire preseason was gassed because of the lockout.
- Now, regular season games are lost, too.
The league made official what's been speculated for some time, calling off the first two weeks of the season. That's around five games for each team that will disappear into the abyss.
It's not officially a cancellation, because if there is a new CBA agreed to tomorrow, the league would still work to put together an 82-game season. That way,
the players don't miss any money the owners don't lose any revenue, despite the idiocy they've shown throughout this mess. However, unless there is a breakthrough in talks that would border on a miracle, you can expect that no NHL team will play an 82-game season in 2012-13.
There is really nothing good that comes of this news. We've talked before about the real losers of this lockout, besides the fans. Arena employees, the behind-the-scenes folks within a hockey team that help make these games happen without a hitch, those who own or work at bars and restaurants and shops that surround these extravagant facilities -- those are the real losers. There will be no way for them to recoup the income lost when these scheduled games do not happen.
But we try not to be really negative around here. With that in mind, maybe there is a silver lining in all of this.
The owners will lose some mentionable money with the loss of regular season games. The players will miss actual paychecks -- cuts of their exorbitant salaries. Finally, we may have some reason for these two sides to come together and figure out a way to reach a compromise.
Let's get NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly's thoughts:
" ... We remain committed to continuing to work hard to try to figure something out that will result in the breakthrough we need to get this agreement done and behind us. But obviously, we haven't been able to do that yet. And for better or worse, we need a negotiating partner to make that happen."
Well, maybe NHLPA czar Donald Fehr feels a little better about this.
"The decision to cancel the first two weeks of the NHL season is the unilateral choice of the NHL owners. If the owners truly cared about the game and the fans, they would lift the lockout and allow the season to begin on time while negotiations continue. A lockout should be the last resort in bargaining, not the strategy of first resort. For nearly 20 years, the owners have elected to lock-out the players in an effort to secure massive concessions. Nevertheless, the players remain committed to playing hockey while the parties work to reach a deal that is fair for both sides. We hope we will soon have a willing negotiating partner."
I'm not breaking news here, but as long as we are getting this rhetoric from the owners and players, I'm pretty sure you can count on more announcements of this ilk in the future.
There will come a time where the sides get sick and tired of taking potshots through the media, and they actually practice what they're preaching. I'm not sure what you call that phase of the negotiating process. Maybe we can label it "actually negotiating."
It won't happen anytime soon, but it will happen. Losing 20 games of a long season might be palatable for the owners and players, but losing a second full season in less than a decade could do more damage to the sport than anyone within the sport is willing to recognize or discuss at this point.