I spent a great deal of the summer reassuring everyone around me that there would not be another NHL lockout and there were definitely some subconscious forces at work. Looking back, I’m not sure if I said that to try to convince myself or because I really didn’t think the NHL and the NHLPA would be so selfish and downright stupid as to let a debacle like the 2004-2005 lockout occur again. Now I find myself telling anyone who will listen, that sure the NHL will cancel some preseason games and maybe some of the regular season but by the time November comes around, everyone will get their act together and we can all watch some hockey. And you know what? I’m probably saying this for the same reasons that I labeled the looming possibility of a lockout in the summer a ruse: Because I love hockey. I’m not pro-owners or pro-players, I am pro-hockey. I’m not going to get technical with the numbers (partly because I would be in over my head) but it is clear to me that it is the rich fighting the richer. The NHL can’t exist without both sides of this squabble, so they each have a unique leverage. In my humble opinion, it would seem like the players will have to cave first because, sure, the owners are losing money too but they presumably have something to fall back on. The players, while sure there are some players who are set for life, there are plenty who don’t make nearly as much money and the paychecks that they will start to miss wil begin to take a big toll.
With that said, the owners and players are not the two biggest losers in this mess. That unfortunate title goes to all of the NHL arena’s staff, the real Davids in this parable. As the NHL and NHLPA continue to bicker, the blue-collar workers are losing portions of their salaries.
And if that isn’t bad enough, what about the fans? Specifically, me! What am I going to watch when I’m yearning for teeth-rattling hits and jock-displacing dangles (which, by the way, is all the time)? How will I play fantasy hockey when all of my to picks will be surfing in California or ice fishing in Saskatchewan? Not to say a season-long lockout would ruin my life, but I would rather shower with a bear than be forced to watch underwater basket weaving, or whatever else that is on NBC Sports in the winter.
So, NHL, NHLPA and whoever else is involved, please just make a deal. Do it for the players, the owners, all of the NHL’s staff and, most importantly, me… I mean the fans, like me.