After weeks of on and off negotiations, the long feared yet expected announcement came down: the NHL lockout of the players began as of midnight eastern time Saturday night when the previous CBA expired. The two sides will remain in contact according to statements issued by both the NHL and the NHLPA, but both sides remain far apart on the core issues regarding a new CBA, specifically the how the hockey-related revenue should be shared.
While both sides are saying the right things in that they will remain in constant communication, the fact of the matter is that if each side was truly serious about trying to reach a new CBA, it would have never have come down to this and the league would not have locked out its players. I tend to side more on the players’ side in that they’ve consistently been willing to negotiate and try to find a fair deal while the NHL seems to be just threatening them by saying, “take our deal or leave it.” The deal they’re offering seems far more skewed in the owners’ favor and would make the players make far more concessions than the owners would have to. Both sides should give a little to reach common ground and get the season going. The league has come a long ways since it’s last lockout and the revenue they’ve generated is pretty significant (in excess of 3.2 billion dollars). That is a lot of money, more than the NHL has ever seen and both sides are responsible for contributing to that. It’s time to get a deal done.
This will be the second NHL lockout in the last eight years. The last lockout, in 2004-05, wiped out the entire season. This will be the fourth NHL lockout under Commissioner Gary Bettman. While it appears that an entire season will not be lost, given what happened the last time the CBA expired, you’ll have to forgive hockey fans for being a little anxious and depressed about the possibility that there will be no hockey at all this year. If the only hockey that’s played this year is on XBOX playing NHL ’13, there are going to be problems. Let’s just get a deal done. Come on owners. Come on players. Come on NHL. Let’s get back to the negotiation table. Let’s get a deal done. Let’s play hockey!