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Hockey returns after yet another lockout

Linksi's List

Columnist

Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 22:01

119 days.

That is how long the National Hockey League (NHL) owners and the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) took to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The NHL kicked off its 48-game season Saturday and Sunday with all 30 teams in action.

The owners and NHLPA reached an agreement Jan. 6, 2013, before they repeated the 2004-2005 season, in which the two sides never met and sacrificed an entire season.

It is nice to see that the two sides may have learned their lesson, because according to NHL.com the new CBA will last for 10 years, with a possible opt-out after eight years. This means an NHL lockout should not be possible again until the 2020-2021 season.

The main dispute with between the owners and NHLPA was a split of revenue. The players will receive 50 percent of hockey related revenue, a drop from the 57 percent they used to receive.

During the lockout, the players were out of work as many of them, including New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk, chose to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia and other European leagues during the lockout.

Other workers including ticket scanners, concession workers and seat ushers were out of a job because of the stubborn bargaining. Many businesses that relied on the business of NHL fans suffered financially as well.

As a longtime fan of hockey, and the NHL in particular, I felt that the fans were being disrespected. I was also starting to think that all of the popularity hockey had gained since Team USA’s silver medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics would be erased.

According to numerous news sources, the NBC airing of the Pittsburgh Penguins/Philadelphia Flyers game reached a 2.0 overnight regional rating. That is the highest NHL has seen (excluding the annual Winter Classic) since 2002.

The Penguins and Flyers were perfect choices to kick off the shortened season because they are popular rivals and they played an extremely physical playoff series last season. The Penguins won the series 3-1.

The teams did not have a lot of time to prepare because of the shortened season. They had about a week of training camp, and no preseason so some teams looked a little rusty.

One of the teams that underperformed was the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. They raised their Championship banner and then dropped their opener to the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2.

Another team off to a slow start is the aforementioned Philadelphia Flyers, who had games Saturday and Sunday. After they dropped their home opener to the Penguins they went to Buffalo and lost to the Sabres 5-2.

The Detroit Red Wings, a team that is typically towards the top of the standings, were annihilated by the St. Louis Blues 6-0.

There are many storylines surrounding the shortened NHL season including the Minnesota Wild’s offseason acquisitions, where and if goaltender Roberto Luongo will be traded, whether a young Edmonton Oilers team can begin to succeed and how can the defending champion Kings try to repeat.

These storylines are only possible because of one reality:

Hockey is back.

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