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Why the NHL lockout needs to end

Drake’s Take

By Carson Drake
On October 12, 2012

Lately, the word "lockout" is becoming as synonymous with American professional sports as slap shot, touchdown, home run and three-pointer.

We've seen it happen in the NFL, NBA, MLB and in the NHL - twice. With each lockout the fans grow weaker and more irritated.  

The culture of hockey in America is as strong as ever. NHL fans are as passionate as ever.  

Look around campus, look on social media, look anywhere and you'll realize how much of an effect lockouts have on fans.

So, after relinquishing the 2004-05 season, how has the NHL reached another lockout?

As in most lockout cases, the NHL is having labor issues due to the distribution of money. Currently, players receive 57 percent of hockey-related revenue (HRR). However, the owners want a higher stake in that category and intend to lower percentage received by the players to 47 percent.

HRR includes any money made from preseason, regular season and playoff games, concessions, licensed gear sales, any television and radio broadcasts, advertising and so on.

A salary cap is based on the idea that owners and players divide the money generated by the league, at a given percentage. The cap is important in that it allows owners to manage their teams accordingly. Also, it controls the player salaries in a way that still gives less wealthy teams a chance to compete for top-level players.

After the league decided on a salary cap in the previous collective bargaining agreement, the owners are hell bent on receiving supplementary economic incentives from the players. The issue with salary caps is once they're agreed upon, owners usually tend to focus on lowering the cap in every conceivable way.

In this case, they have targeted the players' collection of hockey-related revenue.

When compared to the other professional leagues in America, the NHL does not generate nearly as much money as the most viewed sports - the NFL and NASCAR.

In fact, the league is at the tail end in the revenue-generating category. That's not to say that the sport is devoid of avid fans, it has simply taken longer to accrue big money juxtaposed to the other professional sports in America.

Considering this fact, it's shocking that owners have the audacity to want to dig into the pockets of the players even more. After all, the players and the success of the team are responsible for attracting the fans.

Currently, there are over 100 NHL players competing in various leagues in Europe, many of whom are all-stars. The players need to play, and leagues such as the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) are profiting from the lack of hockey in America by honoring the given contracts. Maybe the NHL should listen.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman believes the owners need a better deal because of the struggling economic times the country continues to face.

Since the last lockout, a different team has won the best trophy in sports each year. The Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins and Los Angeles Kings have all snapped longstanding Stanley Cup title droughts - a serious positive for the league. The NHL as a business is as profitable as ever.

Consequently, the players see no need to make concessions favoring the owners.

If small market teams are not making money, shouldn't management take a step back and look at how the organization gains and distributes its money?

The NFL solved the referee debacle. The NBA fixed its labor issues.

Now is the time to resolve the NHL lockout and put the players back on the ice, if not for the good of the game, do it for the fans.

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