NHL fans can probably think of many words to describe their feelings regarding the current lockout.
Disappointment and frustration are two words right at the top of that list. As the clock struck midnight on Sunday the third work stoppage since 1994-1995 commenced. It’s easy to see why the fans are upset with the current situation:
- There are no games being played
- 3rd lockout in last 18 years
- NHL made record revenue last season (3.3 billion)
- Money has already been spent on tickets, apparel, etc…
During the last lockout (2004-2005) the dispute was how to transition from a free market system into the salary cap world. 2005 also was the first time since 1919 that the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded and the first time that a whole season was cancelled due to labor strife. Fast forward to 2012 and back we are…locked out. As previously mentioned the NHL brought in 3.3 billion dollars in revenue a season ago with the players being guaranteed a 57% share of that money. In 2011 the NHL brought in 2.9 billion in revenue and in 2010 the figure was around 2.7 billion dollars. HRR (Hockey Related Revenue) is going up each year and the owners want a bigger piece of that pie. The most recent offer made by the NHL was a 6 year contract which would reduce the players share from 57% in the last CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) down to 49% and then down to 47% over the course of the contract. The NHLPA countered with an offer that would see their own share reduced from 57% to 54.3% to start the deal and then go down to 52.3% over the course of the contract.
How long this lockout will last is a complete unknown but one would suspect that when games start getting cancelled things will start to heat up in terms of negotiation. What we do know is that during a lockout team facilities are shutdown to players and players aren’t receiving paychecks. The only players that are being paid and the only players able to workout at team facilities are those that are injured. For example: Chris Pronger, if he chooses, can workout at Flyers Skate Zone and still collect his paycheck but once he is cleared by doctors to resume playing (not likely) he cannot show up to work.
The scary thing about what is transpiring are the amount of players leaving North America to go play in Europe for the duration of the lockout. Names like Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Jaromir Jagr, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Ondrej Pavelec are all headed elsewhere. Sidney Crosby has also expressed interest in wanting to play in Europe as has Claude Giroux. Will alarm bells start to ring in the heads of the owners when so many top players are going overseas? Imagine Sidney Crosby playing in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey league) and suffering a concussion? Players are risking injury to play the game overseas. Sure there is the same risk playing in the NHL but if you’re Mario Lemieux do you really want your two best players not in your care if something happens?
Does the NHL really want to lose out on the Winter Classic? HBO has produced the hugely successful 24/7 series chronicling the two combatants for a month leading up to the New Year’s day outdoor game. The 2013 Winter Classic features two Original Six teams (Detroit and Toronto) playing at Michigan Stadium with crowds expected to reach over 115,000. Is this something the NHL really wants to lose? That’s probably a dumb question because, obviously, they don’t. A better question would be can the NHL absorb the PR blow from losing this great event? Will the fans come back and pack Michigan Stadium or any other venue the Winter Classic may be held in future years? Both very interesting question but both of which cannot be answered at this time.
As of this writing no talks are scheduled between the NHL and NHLPA.
Keep it dialed in right here at The Orange Update for the latest regarding CBA negotiations and, of course, everything Flyers.
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