On Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman gave a warning about a possible lockout for the 2012 NHL season. Both the NHL and the NHLPA have a month and four days to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement before the current one expires. The expiration date for the current CBA is September 15. If indeed the NHL does lockout its players it would be the first time locked out since 2004.
One of the highly-controversial issues that the league and players are disputing is the nuances of short- and long-term deals. The league wants to shorten the length of contracts that players are being offered so that one team can’t keep a player for, say, 14 years—the length Nashville will keep Shea Weber. The salary cap is also a huge issue that both sides are trying to sort out with such large offer sheets, so taking away long-term contracts could solve the salary cap issue as well. All we can do is sit and wait to see how these labor negotiations play out.
For the league to lockout would feel like not wearing a tie to private school; it just wouldn’t feel right.
How The NHL Would Be Effected By a Lockout
Unlike the NFL, which will never lose its audience, the National Hockey League can’t afford to lose its momentum due to a CBA disagreement.
The league would likely lose many possible fans that have just been introduced to the sport, and that is clearly something Gary Bettman and executives don’t want to see happen. The sport has long been the fourth-most important behind football, baseball, and basketball, three sports that have been around much longer than ice hockey.
As the sport continues to draw attention from both North American and international viewers due to its fights and high-paced action, teams’ pocketbooks are growing and everyone is happy. With a lockout, the league would also lose a lot of its revenue because there would be no Bridgestone Winter Classic and no Stanley Cup Playoffs. As has been shown by NBC, more people tuned into hockey’s high-profile events than ever before.
Then, of course, there are the players. As the early parts of the NBA and NFL seasons showed, even brief lockouts can lead to worse play until the athletes recover. If the league is forced to cancel games and team-organized practices for an entire season, who knows what will happen to the players and where they will go as an alternative. Every team has its window, and it would be unfair to deny teams like Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Minnesota and the Flyers their chance at a Cup when the time seems right.
What Players Are Thinking About the Looming Lockout
Nobody can be happy about the lockout, seeing as it kills fan interest and revenues, takes away salaries from players and deprives hockey fans of their annual seven months of game action. Here are what some of the players are saying about the possibility of a third lockout during Bettman’s tenure.
Former Flyer Joffrey Lupul, via Twitter:
The word lockout should be mentioned on Sept 15 and then only. Plenty of time for a solution. Seems like Gary is eager for the “hat-trick”.
— Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) August 10, 2012
San Jose center Logan Couture also had something to say:
— Logan Couture (@Logancouture) August 11, 2012
Canadiens’ forward Brandon Prust also had some tough words for Bettman and the NHL:
— Brandon Prust (@BrandonPrust8) August 10, 2012
Flyers’ Offseason Preparation
Even with the lockout still a strong possibility, the Flyers do not want to take any chances in missing out on an impact player, specifically a big defenseman to fill the hole left by Chris Pronger. Sure, they’ve gone out and gotten players like Bruno Gervais, Ruslan Fedetenko and Luke Schenn, but missing out on Shea Weber left the Flyers searching for answers.
Some names that are inevitably being tossed around are free agent Carlo Colaiacovo, who last played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Jay Bouwmeester, who the Flyers could acquire in a trade with Calgary.
There are no signs of what the Flyers are interested in doing so far, but what we do know is that the Flyers need a big defenseman to fill the void or it could be another disappointing season for the Orange and Black. The Flyers need to keep thinking that the season will go on until September 16 at 12:00 AM, when the lockout can go into full effect, or their defensive/goaltending problems will lead to another Cup-less campaign.
In terms of an alternative, CSNPhilly is reporting that the NHLPA is ready to schedule exhibition games with the Russian All-Stars of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Flyers that could likely be eligible to be on the NHL’s traveling team will be Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Luke Schenn.
Hopefully the NHL and the NHLPA can come to terms on a new CBA before September 15 so we can see the puck drop for the Philadelphia Flyers 2012-2013 season on October 11, 2012 when the Flyers are set to face the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions.