The NHL lockout is over. Actually, it's not officially over but a framework over a new CBA has been agreed upon, effectively putting an end to the madness known as the lockout. The two sides have finally come together and put something down on paper that they actually agree on, according to NHL.com.
You might be asking, which side won the standoff? The simple answer is clear - No one.
I've been ready to write this article for months. As the lockout trudged along it became easier and easier to figure out which side would be the winner when the dust finally settled on a new CBA. The details of the new CBA haven't even been released yet, but it's clear that neither side emerges as a victor.
Hockey fans will celebrate that the lockout is over. There's no harm in doing that as long as you keep things in perspective.
It's January of 2013.
The two sides should have figured this out a long, long time ago. It never should have reached this point. The Winter Classic, the All-Star Game and the other 50% of the season should have never been killed off. Fans will celebrate over the fact there will be some hockey played this year but they should remember that we all could have easily enjoyed a full 2012-13 schedule, without any interruptions.
Negotiations only took a serious turn when the two sides approached the alleged "drop dead" date when the season as a whole might be canceled. It's nice that the worst case scenario was avoided but it's ridiculous to think we should all applaud the two sides after they both handled this so poorly.
Up until the previous few days there were never any signs of urgency. No one seemed to realize the damage being done to the league and its credibility. ESPN claims the damage is done but it's all repairable. I'm not so sure. That credibility and faith that the two sides care about anything other than money is history. The passionate fans will return but it's doubtful they'll be as passionate as they were thanks to the sour taste of the past several months left in their mouths. Numerous season ticket holders have canceled their tickets. They might return but it's doubtful they all will. Meanwhile, the casual fan lost by the lockout might never return.
Before you celebrate, take a second and remember those that had their lives impacted by the NHL lockout that were never directly involved in negotiations. Those that were fired from their respective teams, those that had their salaries cut back, those that depend on hockey games just to get by. The concession workers, merchandise vendors and owners of various establishments around the arena. They are the ones that were hurt by all of this the most, not the wealthy players and especially not the even wealthier owners.
The damage is done and while the league will recover, certain elements will never be the same.
As you celebrate the return of hockey keep this in mind: It's amazing to have hockey back but none of this was ever necessary. None of this was worth it. Neither side wins. Both sides are to blame for the loss of a significant chunk of hockey this year and for damaging the reputation of the league. Because of that both sides should be labeled appropriately - Losers.
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Deal in principle? Call me when they've got a deal in practice. Until then, there's still time for Bettman and Fehr to somehow blow this up.
Meanwhile, assuming this does actually stick, I'll be curious to see what the new terms really are, particularly if they're actually going to help teams that have been struggling financially under the old setup. If it doesn't, this was all really for nothing.
@miendiem Based on various reports, the floor will still be tied to a rising salary cap. This was one of the areas I thought had to change to help out the smaller markets. I'm puzzled as to why it wasn't change as it was one of the most critical parts of the CBA that needed to give smaller teams some breathing room.
Guess we'll have to wait and see if it's factual.