Author: Damian Mendieta|Damian Mendieta|Damian Mendieta
Nineteen years and four lockouts later, Gary Bettman has officially earned the crown of worst NHL Commissioner of all time. It is bad enough that he is booed annually when presenting the Stanley Cup, but after this ordeal he will be lucky to escape without an angry mob coming after him. An unapologetic rabble of owners and players have so far made it clear that their pockets are the first and foremost priority for the sport.
The lockout has already led to the cancellation of all pre-season games and might also do away with the entire season. In fact, it looks like this lockout will benefit an unlikely party – other hockey leagues around the world. An exodus of stellar players has already begun, and will probably continue, as Bettman’s stubbornness precedes him. The players are equally to blame, as they battle to retain 57 percent of NHL revenue.
Although American media does not bestow as much attention to the ice-rink as the court, diamond or gridiron, international media outlets have closely followed the lockout with almost play-by-play coverage. Talks between the Players Association and league owners have not chipped the tip of the iceberg yet, and instead have mostly consisted of beating around the bush.
The billions and billions of dollars that resurface the ice for millionaire hockey players have not been discussed. Even NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said discussion talks so far have not focused on the economic divisions that caused the lockout in the first place.
The last time this happened, during the 2004-2005 season, the lockout quickly escalated and led to the loss of the entire season. Almost half of the league’s players relocated overseas, but the millions of fans did not overtly sympathize with hockey’s overpaid heroes and put much of the blame upon the players.
This time, the dispute is basically a squabble about how to divide a $3.3 billion revenue bonanza that the league has attained. Leave it to the NHL to entice a lockout when there’s too much money to go around. The best comparison of the present lockout is that of two players duking it out on the rink with no refs to stop it, and the fans unsure of whether to cheer or boo.
An assortment of players have also looked into overseas league’s in an attempt to stay in shape but not as an alternative in docked pay.
Instead of leaving, the players should stay in North America and work out the labor dispute. The problem is here, in the NHL, and if the money issues are not addressed soon, the season is in danger of being cancelled.
The fans have been a key factor in the events leading up to the lockout. After the 2004-2005 lockout, fans warmly welcomed back the NHL by skyrocketing attendance and helping the league’s revenue grow even more.
Despite all of this, history indicates that the chances are the lockout will soon be forgotten come next September, and that is completely unacceptable. So today when blame is doled out, the fans must also be dealt some. If the NHL’s fan base has learned anything they will stay away from games whenever it is they come back.
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