Today marks the 53rd day of the NHL lockout, and fans at Central Michigan University are becoming more irritated by the day.
“I think it’s really frustrating,” Grand Rapids senior Emily Kent said. “The only reason there is a lockout right now is because of greed, and that’s not fair to the fans.”
The league decided to lock out its players after the previous collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association expired Sept. 15.
With still no new deal by Oct. 4, the league canceled the first two weeks of the season, consisting of 82 games.
But on Oct. 16, the NHL made a proposal centered on a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenues between the owners and players. The deal would have saved the full 82-game schedule, giving students and hockey fans a reason to be optimistic.
The NHLPA responded with three counterproposals, but they were all turned down by the league.
“Hearing that news, I was very optimistic and I thought for sure within a 24-hour period we would figure out if we would have hockey back or not,” Rochester junior Shaun Burke said. “But it was just that much more of a dagger when (the players) did not accept the proposal.”
The NHL decided to take it a step further on Oct. 26, canceling all games from Oct. 11 through Nov. 30—more than 26.5 percent of the schedule.
And the cancelation of the Winter Classic on Friday just exacerbated student’s frustration.
“Detroit was going to be in the national spotlight and it was going to get some recognition,” Shelby Township senior Greg Robertson said. “People were going to see how great of a sports town it is and how much we love our hockey. And now it’s not going to happen, so it’s pretty disappointing.”
Burke said he will have to search for other things to watch as the lockout lingers.
“I don’t watch much basketball and football ends in February, so basically, I am just going to be channel surfing,” he said.
Fox Sports Detroit has aired several replays of Red Wings’ games to fill open time slots.
“The other night, they had a game on, and I watched most of it just because I miss the Wings,” Burke said. “But replay is just not the same as a live hockey game.”
For Burke, social media has been the main source of breaking news about the lockout.
“If I come across something on social media about it, I’ll read it, but I don’t really search for it,” he said. “I just take the information that comes across to me.”
Robertson said there is no substitute for NHL hockey, but the lockout will give him a chance to follow college hockey more closely.
“I have a couple buddies on Ferris’ team, so I’m going to try and make it there for a couple of games,” he said. “Other than that, I’ve been watching some college hockey on TV as well.”
Now in the eighth week of the lockout, Robertson said he is not holding out too much hope for an NHL season.
“I’m losing optimism by the day,” he said. “I would say if it doesn’t happen within the ne xt few weeks, then it’s not going to happen.”