When talks of another lockout began I swore that Sunshine State Hockey would not feed the egos of the National Hockey League, its commissioner, the owners, or the players association by publishing articles talking about the childish argument over money that may very well lead to another missed season. I decided last night, after seeing players like James Wisniewski of the Columbus Blue Jackets use the hashtag #thefans on Twitter, that I had finally seen enough and it was time to speak my mind about this dollar sign duel. Being a fan of hockey, and more importantly the NHL, for almost 15 years means that I had the displeasure of experiencing the 2004-2005 full season lockout. At this point, since both sides have retreated into their holes without any common ground, it is a very real possibility that another 82 game lockout may be on the way.
Obviously this is something nobody wants, not even the greedy owners or players. The NHL generated record revenues last year, so missing out on the 2012-2013 season would be a big blow to a league that took so long to recover from the previous lockout. Let us also not forget about the success of non-traditional teams like the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers during 2011-2012. Florida won their first ever SouthEast division championship and qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in 12 years, gaining ground in a crowded sports marketplace while, just three short months ago, the LA Kings won their first ever Stanley Cup by putting together one of the most dominant playoff performances in NHL history. There is no doubt that any type of a lockout would hurt the momentum built by both franchises last season.
The most interesting aspect of the Collective Bargaining Agreement arguments is the fact that fans are actually picking sides because they actually believe the league and its players care about them. I think it has become pretty obvious at this point that the only thing both sides care about is the almighty dollar. Of course this should come as no surprise considering the fact that the NHL is nothing more than a business, just like all other professional sports’ leagues. As fans we always here “it’s just the nature of the business” or “that’s the business side of the sport for you”. Just like in 2004, we are being given a strong example of what those quotes truly mean.
I already picked my side in this fight months ago when the talks began to pick up. My allegiance is not with the billionaire owners who offered ridiculous contracts to overrated players, only to now demand that those athletes get paid less money. At the same time I refuse to side with a players association that represents $100 million, 10+ year contract holders like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Ilya Kovalchuk who base their arguments around the saying “we only have a limited time to earn money while owners continue to do so”. I proudly support the people stuck in the middle of this battle, the fans and the arena workers that do not make billions or millions of dollars.
The NHL and NHLPA seem to forget the fact that money does not grow on trees. Obviously it must be hard to remember that with all of the “big money” walking in and out of the meetings once a week. The majority of fans for any professional sport come from middle-class families. Even yours truly has trouble paying the price for full season tickets each year, and I live in one of the cheaper hockey markets. I always find a way to because my love for the game is stronger than any price tag attached to it. One would think that if both sides loved the game as much as the fans that they would find anyway possible to play, just like we find anyway possible to pay. It is disappointing to think that hard working fans who choose to spend their money on the NHL might not get what they paid for.
If anyone believes for a second that they will easily get their money back from their favorite team if there is a lockout think again. Unless things have changed since the 2004-2005 no-season anyone who wants their cash back will have to put up a big fight to get it. During the last lockout I had purchased season tickets before the season was cancelled. Once Gary Bettman made the announcement on February 9th, 2005 I had requested my money back from the Florida Panthers, only to be denied. After weeks of arguing back and forth with my ticket representative and COO Michael Yormark they finally agreed to give my hard earned cash back to me, in $100 monthly installments. I cannot confirm if other NHL teams handle their business the same way or if Florida still does, so anyone interested in tickets might want to ask before making a purchase.
As fans we have every right to speak our minds during this frustrating time. We pay thousands of dollars to support our favorite teams and players every year, only to get a slap in the face each time the CBA expires. My recommendation for every angry hockey fan is to do everything you can to have your voices heard. Call, send e-mails, write letters, and meet with those in charge of your favorite team and the league (if possible). Tell them how you truly feel about this greedy disagreement between the NHL and NHLPA that is keeping fans from watching the greatest game on earth.
I will wrap this up with a video that has been making its way around the hockey community. Janne Makkonen, the freelance video editor from Finland that was featured on Sunshine State Hockey back in January (here), has released a new masterpiece regarding the current CBA/lockout situation. The video is titled “Together We Can #nolockout” and sums up the feelings of every hockey fan frustrated by this mess. Please watch, enjoy, and do not forget to speak out against those trying to take our favorite pastime away from us, again.
Source: (Janne Makkonen’s YouTube Channel)
The Los Angeles Kings are the 2012 Stanley Cup champions. LA defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in game 6 to claim Lord Stanley’s hardware for the first time in franchise history. A 5-minute boarding major assessed to Steve Bernier in the first period led to three consecutive power-play goals for the Kings. At the start of the second period Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Columbus, scored his second goal of the game to put his team up 4-0, a deficit that was just too large for New Jersey to overcome.
Also handed out on this night was the Conn Smythe Trophy, an award that is given to the player “judged to be the most valuable to his team during the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs”. Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick was the clear winner of the hardware because of his impressive play in the post-season. Quick finished with 16 wins, a .946 save percentage, and a 1.43 goals against average.
Everyone at Sunshine State Hockey would like to congratulate the LA Kings and their fans on winning their first ever Stanley Cup. We would also like to congratulate the New Jersey Devils, even though they eliminated our Florida Panthers, on a surprising but great post-season run.
The Edmonton Oilers may have issues winning on the ice but they certainly know how to win when it comes to the draft lottery. The NHL held their annual draft lottery earlier this evening and the Oilers came out on top for the third year in a row, even though the Columbus Blue Jackets had the best chance of winning. After tonight’s lottery the draft order for the bottom 14 teams shapes up like this:
2012 NHL Draft Order
1. Edmonton Oilers
2. Columbus Blue Jackets
3. Montreal Canadiens
4. New York Islanders
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Carolina Hurricanes
9. Winnipeg Jets
10. Tampa Bay Lightning
11. Washington Capitals (From Colorado)
12. Buffalo Sabres
13. Dallas Stars
14. Calgary Flames
The remaining draft order of the first round will be determined after the playoffs are finished.