By Ken Peacock
36 days until opening night. Yes, hockey is finally making its way back into our lives. Training camp opens up at the end of this month and the puck finally drops in Scope on October 12. You would think it is business as usual in the hockey world right? Well for those of us with and AHL or other minor league, junior, or college team this is correct. These arenas will be filled with thousands of loud fans cheering on the home team as the season starts. That’s good for us, but not so good for those that follow an NHL team. September 15 is right around the corner and the NHL and NHLPA are in a stalemate on the CBA agreement. It looks like the arenas are going to remain dark with chains on the doors. Another lockout is about to become reality.
Most of the NHL teams were set to start training camp later this month. Players have started moving back to their respective cities and holding informal training sessions on their practice rinks. The NHL and the NHLPA have met a few times, but are still miles apart on a new CBA agreement. You would think that there is still some time to hammer out an agreement and get things back on course. Well you thought wrong. As of Wednesday there are no new negations scheduled between both parties. The last session resulted in the stalemate that we have today. Salaries, revenue, finances…..In other words…All things money is at the heart of these troubles. Throw in some power struggles over how things are ran and a few labor issues and we have the perfect recipe for a lockout disaster. It’s not looking good right now and the outlook for the future keeps getting darker.
So what happens next? Well I would hope that the league and the players would want to get back at it and hammer a last minute deal that would keep the doors open for the season. That’s not looking good right now. The KHL and other leagues already have plans on getting their hands on some NHL players during the lockout. Players are already making their travel arrangements for an European vacation (of sorts) during the lockout. Alex Ovechkin was asked about his plans and playing in Russia. His response, “Of course I’m thinking about it because my hometown has teams and my Russian federation have a league. Of course I’m probably going to be there. But I don’t want to be there, I want to be here. My contract is here, I hope NHL and NHLPA gonna sign a deal before the 15th.” Ovechkin, like the rest of the players, want to play. They want to play, but they are not wanting to bow to the pressure of the league. “Of course nobody wants to be in the position to be in the lockout, but it is what it is. We’re not going to give up.”
What about the fans? We are caught in the middle with nowhere to go. The league and the NHLPA will appeal to our hearts to side with them. Twitter campaigns to stop the lockout, #nolockout, have been going on for weeks now. Fan videos about the lockout have been re-tweeted by players and fans to keep up the fight. Is it doing any good? I think it makes the fans feel like they are doing some good, but overall it’s not going to be a factor in the fight at all. The NHL knows that they may lose some fans, but in the end the fans will be back when NHL hockey is back. Now is the time for both sides to get back to the table instead of taking shots at each other from afar. The NHL and the NHLPA are worse than Congress….come on now….lets burn the midnight oil and get things done. Vacation is over! For the fans……enjoy whatever hockey is available to you. The AHL is guaranteed to be playing in October and I will be there supporting the Norfolk Admirals.