COLUMN: NHL lockout, who’s at fault and who’s the victim
When I first heard of the possibility that the National Hockey League could be facing another lockout, I simply shrugged it off, confident in the fact that a deal would be made to avoid such a fate.
It was announced on Sept. 14, that the league would formally enter a lockout if an agreement wasn’t made on both sides by Saturday at midnight. On Sept. 16, 2012, at 12:01 a.m., the NHL officially entered it’s second lockout in seven years.
The debate is between the NHL, consisting of league commissioner Gary Bettman and the team owners, against the NHL Players’ Association, the labor union for players.
The NHL and the NHLPA have been stalemated over the issue of how to distribute the leagues revenue, estimated to be $3.3 billion, where the league wants to cut players’ salaries immediately through escrow.
To counter this offer, the NHLPA has proposed to cut their future salaries, suggesting that the NHL make current sacrifices to precede their future salary cuts.
The NHL has refused the NHLPA’s proposal, mainly because this would force some of the larger franchises to give up some of its current revenue in order to help out those franchises who are struggling to remain in the league.
According to findings on Forbes.com, the top five richest franchises in the NHL are the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadians, Detroit Red Wings and The Boston Bruins.
The NHLPA has insisted that franchises such as these give up some of their hefty revenues in order to help out teams such as the Phoenix Coyotes, who are listed as the poorest team in the league, losing nearly $24.4 million in operating revenue.
Teams such as the Coyotes have been struggling for years with finances, and have faced the possibility of bankruptcy several times.
However, according to Forbes, there are 18 teams that are currently losing money in operating revenue, and it may be a bit to much to ask of the NHL to give up enough money to cover some of the losses of these teams.
With all this being said, I’m absolutely sickened that I even have to write about this. I’d much rather be writing about how my favorite team, the Detroit Red Wings are performing in the preseason, and how this year’s draft class is shaping up thus far.
I’ve had many conversations with my friends and my little brother, another hockey fanatic, about where the blame should be placed, and honestly, I think both sides are equally to blame.
The NHL could budge a little in giving up some of their wealth to help out other teams, but the NHLPA needs to be a lot more flexible.
While the NHLPA has been generous in offering future salary cuts, it’s not enough to impress me. NHL players literally make an average of over $2 million a year, and the bottom line is this, the lockout is ultimately hurting fans who love the game of hockey.
The fans who go to these games are predominately from the middle class, and many will work their entire lives in desperate hopes that maybe they’ll make a million dollars in their lifetime.
To the NHL and the NHLPA, you are hurting us fans who love to watch the game of hockey. Your actions are showing that money and salaries are more important than playing for the love of the game, something which the NHL has been promoting for so long.
Get your act together NHL. The fans are the innocent victims here, and this second lockout in seven years is an absolute embarrassment for Gary Bettman and his league.
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