By Nolan Stout, Staff Writer
November 9, 2012
As a Southerner, I had to grow to love hockey, unlike Canadians, who are practically born with a passion for the game.
I know the sport isn’t that big in the U.S., a country where football, baseball and basketball reign supreme. But, I love the game. During the season, I don’t tune to anything else if my Carolina Hurricanes are playing.
So when I heard that the league was locking out players and fans for the second time in eight years, I nearly put my head through a wall.
How stupid is this lockout?
Not only does it take away a chance for the league to increase its popularity, it is a missed opportunity to show that the NHL is better than other leagues at getting economic issues worked out.
Instead of negotiating a new deal as the old one expired on Sept. 16, both sides were wasting time preparing sappy press releases and YouTube videos boo-hooing about how they are being exploited.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly even had the audacity to announce that he and Commissioner Gary Bettman won’t cash in on their salaries until after the lockout is over. Why should we care? They’re not taking a pay cut, just getting paid at a later date.
In Bettman’s case, a pay cut might be a good idea considering this is the third work stoppage in his 19 years as commissioner.
The owners are probably the most hypocritical of either side. Minnesota owner Craig Leipold signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to 13-year deals and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs signed Tyler Seguin to a six-year deal, while they both sit at the negotiating table demanding that contracts be capped at five years.
The players are not free from blame either. Players like Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Jaromir Jagr, Rick Nash, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk have signed deals overseas, showing disunity among the players. Every team except the Vancouver Canucks has lost a player to free agency.
The players are also busy crying about how much they lost in the last lockout, making them cautious of giving the owners any concessions. However, of the two sides, the players are much more willing to compromise. They even asked for the opportunity to continue the season while still negotiating, but the owners were unwilling to give up that leverage.
The last time the league locked out in 2004, hockey wasn’t as popular as it is now. There were massive overhauls made to the CBA with salary cuts and added salary cap space. However, that was the first time
This time the issues aren’t as big. The main disagreement is over revenue sharing. Under the expired CBA, players earned 57 percent of revenue. Most people believe this is a little high, but instead of gradually bringing the number down in negotiations, the owners’ first offer was a large cut to 43 percent.
That revenue will not matter if the season isn’t played. Regular season games have already been cancelled through Nov. 30, guaranteeing lost revenue.
What both sides need to think about is everyone else affected by this unnecessary work stoppage.
My sister, Arielle Stout, currently works part-time in ticket operations for the Carolina Hurricanes. She is trying to work her way into the marketing department and was working eight hours a day, three days a week. Because of the lockout, her work has been cut to one day a week. Now she struggles to pay her rent and is losing an opportunity to move up in her job.
This lockout affects many and neither side is very willing to budge. For a league that says they have the best fans in the world, the NHL is showing an unnerving tendency of turning its back on those fans for money.
For the sake of the game, this lockout must end now. But alas, the fans are the losers in this battle of greed.