On Sunday the NHL will ruin Christmas for the fans of the Dallas Stars and every other NHL franchise. Stay with me here…
At 12:01 am Sunday morning, the NHL intends to lockout all players and lock up all the arenas. This will result in the second halted season in eight years, and the third in Commissioner Gary Bettman’s tenure. Eight years ago the league lost an entire season because of the inability of both parties to come to a new agreement. In the end they settled on the collective bargaining agreement that will expire in the early hours of Sunday. Many things have changed since the last lockout, and it is the differences between 2004 and the present that will be the largest factors determining the length of this impending lockout.
The largest difference between the last NHL lockout and the one coming is the NHL itself. The two sides are arguing over the division of the largest profits the league has ever seen. Last season the league generated $3.3 billion dollars in revenue. These record earnings might be leading the league’s owners to believe that there will be the same rebound that they saw after 2004. Fool us once shame on you, but fool us twice, shame on us.
Another difference is the economy supporting the league. While hockey fans obviously found room in their tightened budgets in 2011, this was an act of love. When the owners turn their collective backs on not only the players, but also the fans, they will lose the support of fans who pay hard-earned money to watch the world’s best hockey players play the game they love. That hard-earned money can easily go towards the profits of any number of other sports, or on any number of things that will show more appreciation for the loyalty.
The only bright side to this situation is that there has been quite a bit of off season movement for a league that plans to lockout another season. It’s hard to believe that Minnesota wants to wait on the unveiling of its new look Wild team after the acquisition of big names Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. It’s also hard to think that teams would sign lengthy extensions for players they intend to have sitting on their couches during the first year of the deals. The Dallas Stars have to be worried about newly acquired Jaromir Jagr sitting on the shelf during what could be one of his final seasons, not to mention about half of a fairly senior roster. However, the idea of the Los Angeles Kings having to wait another year to hang their championship banner might not upset too many Dallas Stars fans.
October 11th is set to be the first day of the 2012-2013 NHL season. Many hockey fans will agree when I say that that day evokes a certain excitement in me that echoes back to waking up Christmas morning. This year the NHL is on the verge of ruining that feeling. Without any major change in the next few days, this year the NHL will ruin Christmas.