The NHL lost tons of fan support and money in 2005 when the entire season was cancelled because the owners and players could not reach an agreement.
All offseason the big talk about hockey has had to do with free agency and who is playing where, that is great, but lets not forget we are not even guaranteed NHL hockey next season. The CBA between the NHL and NHLPA has expired and the two sides need to come to an agreement if hockey is going to be played next season. Both sides are expected to talk and negotiate for the next few weeks, but the NHL has already come out lowballing the players. This did not go over well and both sides will need to make significant compromises if they want a 2012-2013 season. It is vital that these sides come to a longterm agreement because unlike the NBA or NFL the NHL is not popular enough to survive a lockout without significant damage.
While the NHL’s popularity is rising especially in cities with good teams a lockout would devastate the league. After the 2005 lockout this became very apparent. When the 2006 season started rating were horrible and stayed that way for quite a few years. The last five years however have been different. More and more people are going to games and even more are watching on television. This would be the worst possible time for a league that is rising so drastically in popularity to miss any games because of labor problems.
The NFL missed training camp and few preseason games before last year and the NBA played a shortened 66 game season and both made it out fine. The NHL is not in position to do that, if they miss any time the league will be in serious trouble. I want a longterm deal (8-10 years) that both sides are relatively content with so the fans won’t have to worry about this again. Next year is bound to be a great season, and I fully expect both sides to come to an agreement and no hockey should be missed next year.
- Jonathan Duncan