Skip to content

Columnist: NHL has to learn from NFL’s embarrassment

Sep 27, 2012, 1:54 PM EDT

Goodell and Bettman AP

Now that the NFL has ended its humiliating stint with replacement referees, the pressure’s on the NHL to stave off an even bigger embarrassment – another lost season due to a labor dispute.

That’s the argument columnist Joe Haggerty is making:

The NFL finally showed some respect for their paying customers rather than continuing to insult their intelligence while allowing their great sport to decay. It’s time for the NHL to do the exact same before they become a year-long running joke on a slap shot into oblivion.

Clearly they are different situations.

The NFL is a $10 billion plus industry that was foolishly squabbling with the refs over a few million dollars. The two sides of the NHL CBA negotiations are about a billion dollars apart over the lifetime of the contract, and nobody is denying that money is the key issue.

But the scrutiny and the microscope is now expertly trained on Bettman and the NHL, and the lighting will only get more unforgiving as time marches on.

Speculation is growing that the NHL may indeed abandon the season, but it still seems unfathomable that it would choose to do so.


—- The NHL posted record revenues in 2011-12. Clearly the league has momentum. But in terms of popularity in the United States, the NHL is still fourth behind the NFL, NBA, and MLB. Which is to say it still has a long ways to go.

—- The NBA managed to solve last year’s lockout with losing an entire season. Ditto for the NFL. MLB quietly signed another CBA last year, too. As Haggerty writes, the NHL is now “the only major pro sports league that officially can’t get its crap together.”

But perhaps most importantly, remembering what a laughingstock the NHL became when it canceled the 2004-05 season, imagine what people will say if it loses another one less than a decade later.

Once again hockey fans will be left to stick up for their favorite sport while everyone else is busy enjoying theirs.

Well, except if hockey fans say “screw it, you’re right, the NHL is a joke” and don’t.

  1. getadealdonealready - Sep 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    We’ll said, get your Sh** together NHL

  2. falstaffsmind - Sep 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    I suspect the NHL thinks by not televising games with ‘replacements’ they aren’t in the public eye, thus no foul. Out of sight out of mind. But it’s not true. I am personally more upset with the NHL than I am with the replacement refs in the NFL. Bad officiating isn’t as bad as shuttered arenas.

    • woodsvikes - Sep 27, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      I’m not sure, but I don’t think the NHL can lockout players then use replacement players. I believe they would be sued for it. Now, if the players were on strike, then they could use replacements.

  3. jimw81 - Sep 27, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    There is a difference btw NFL and NHL, they got a guy who knows how to lead and takes responsibility for his mistakes. NHL is stuck with a guy doesn’t acknowledge His mistakes and runs away from it.

  4. sharksfan97 - Sep 27, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Great article! Haggerty’s thoughts reflect my thinking exactly! The NHL, the red headed step child of pro sports, can’t get it’s act together? Unbelievable! I’m one of those hockey fans that is in the process of tuning to sport out…for good. I’ve already used my Center Ice money for Sunday Ticket!

  5. sdelmonte - Sep 27, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    You want to run a sports league? You could do a lot worse than learning from the NFL. Which, despite a lockout that felt like it dragged on forever, lost not a single game last year, even in preseason. And which, faced with an embarrassing but non-fatal blunder, got its act together in the space of two days.

    • hockeyflow33 - Sep 27, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      They cancelled the Hall of Fame game

  6. chicagobtech - Sep 27, 2012 at 4:04 PM

    The longer this lockout gets dragged out, the more proof there is that the NHL ownership does not have a leader. What a sad, sad way to run a league.

  7. 81redneck - Sep 27, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Its over ! why bother even writing articles about this

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kane (1856)
  2. P. Kessel (1574)
  3. M. Richards (1341)
  4. N. Backstrom (1147)
  5. P. Datsyuk (1137)