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Top 2012: The NHL’s inexcusable lockout

Dec 25, 2012, 9:30 PM EDT

Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr Getty Images

Reaching a new CBA was never going to be easy, but it shouldn’t have been this hard.

Here we are on Dec. 25 and there’s still no deal between the NHL and NHLPA. Officially the lockout is over 100 days old, and if the two sides can’t come together soon, the league will lose its second entire season in less than a decade.

It won’t be the only thing the NHL loses. Fans, respect, millions and millions of dollars — take your pick. For an industry that was enjoying record revenues, in a terrible economy no less, another lost season would be inexcusable.

Again, it was never going to be easy. The NHL’s problems are complicated. For all the parity on the ice, there’s very little off it. The owners want the players to help the league’s financially challenged franchises; the players want the owners to work it out between themselves. It’s a tough situation.

But it was made far tougher than necessary. From the NHL’s opening offer that it should have known would infuriate the players, to the union’s time-wasting forays into provincial labor boards, it’s impossible to justify the antagonistic tactics that both sides have employed repeatedly throughout this agonizing process.

Not to mention all the nauseating spin. The league using its low-ball offer as an artificial starting point and acting like it was making “concessions” every time it demanded slightly less from the players. The union’s constant reminders that the lockout was the owners’ choice and that the players would be delighted to play under the terms of the expired CBA while negotiating, as if that was ever going to happen in a million years.

None of that ridiculous rhetoric was intended to fool the other side. It was done to curry favor with the fans. And fans were rightly insulted by it.

For what it’s worth, we’re still optimistic there will be a season, if only because it would be so unfathomably foolish to let it slip away.

Then again, it’s been pretty unfathomably foolish already…

  1. jimw81 - Dec 25, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    well said. i want to thank the writers of prohockeytalk taking time out of their holiday celebration for writing these top 2012 articles for their loyal readers.

    • gibbstastic - Dec 25, 2012 at 10:05 PM

      also well said.

  2. Stiller43 - Dec 25, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    My exact thoughts. Happy holidays and safe travels to everyone

  3. rushledger - Dec 25, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    You nailed it on the head, inexcusable, there’s no way you can truly make sense if this unlike the 04-05 lockout with the cap. Nonetheless hockey friends enjoy the holidays.

  4. malkinrulez - Dec 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    I agree Jason. The game I love is slipping into oblivion again and I hold both accountable .

  5. whatthepuck2012 - Dec 25, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Merry Christmas to all of you! (Except for the Scrooges in the NHL/PA.)

  6. mountainmantride - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:14 PM

    Oblivion (noun): the state of being unaware or unconscious of what is happening; the state of being forgotten, esp. by the public.

    NHL goes bye bye.

  7. blomfeld - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    “if only because it would be so unfathomably foolish to let it slip away” …

    Very true Brough … not to mention the fact that doing so would also equate to “mutual suicide” and then the end. But we shouldn’t let ourselves be afraid, as that simply isn’t going to happen. “Good times” and the resumption of NHL hockey are now just around the corner, I guarantee it! Even my old friend “Stransky” (physicist and expert in forensic causation analysis) said to me earlier today in his Christmas call, that he was now going to re-order his NHL Center Ice package!

    Looking back on things though, my philosophy has been to always try and see the “silver-lining” which exists with any setback or upset in life. It’s always there friends, though the challenge at times is to try and find it. But once you do, then the hurt which you originally felt doesn’t seem quite as bad. The way I see it, this lockout business has brought so many of us together here at PHT in a way that we could have never possibly imagined before. Heated and passionate discussions about labor relations and collective bargaining, economics, finance, marketing, history … we’ve done it all friends. And by doing so, we’ve all “learned” and we’ve all become “wiser” for sure … at least I know that I have. :) From time to time, I peruse the other NBC sites (PBT, PFT, PGT, PCT, etc). And I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything even remotely comparable to the lively, intelligent, entertaining, passionate and thought-provoking discourse which we have here at PHT! A “tip of the hat” is therefore in order, not only to the excellent PHT writers themselves, but as well to “everyone” who comes to this excellent site, irrespective of whether they speak or simply read. Merry Christmas everyone and “stand by” as NHL hockey is a coming !!!! :) :) :)

    PS: I don’t give a crap what anyone says … it’s time for an excellent Elvis video !

    • woodstakes - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:16 AM

      Excellent post Blom… I will agree with you on many of the things you said but never more so than the passion and intellect of the NHL fans. People here whether you like them or dislike them seem to have knowledge.. was that knowledge they had before this strife or was it acquired due to it? For me it was due to it. Researching, learning, trying desperately to understand it. Being pro owner, then pro player then to ultimately holding both of them accountable for this.

      Sadly, THAT, that statement right there.. “the passion and intellect of the NHL fans.” is what they don’t seem to get. So many of us are smart enough to know that this is complicated, but we are also smart enough to know that there was no reason for it to go on so long. No where on this site or the sister sites you mentioned will you find the same level of passion. Do you really believe there would be conversations with such passion on the NBA site… well, there sure wasn’t when they were locked out. Perhaps the NFL could pull this sort of thing from its fans. But, I seem to doubt it. True hockey fans watch hockey at all levels. From pee wee’s and midgets up the NHL and EVERYTHING in between. How many NFL fans do you think go watch high school football? My guess not many unless they have some sort of personal connection to that particular team. Yet you see hockey fans watching little kids play, bigger kids play, college kids play, major juniors and on up to the NHL. THAT is what they don’t get. They don’t get that these are the types of fans you have and they/we DO NOT deserve to be treated this way.

      In the end our passion and love will bring us back to the best of the best. Some of us will be bitter. I for one will be, as i’ve stated earlier I got a refund on my season tickets and I will purchase no tickets or merchandise equal to everyday that was missed by this lockout, however many of you will not and that’s ok too. Because I do understand why you will go back right away, I don’t blame any of you because I will want to be right there with you my friends. But, I made a promise to myself and i’m going to keep it. I just really hope for the sake of the sport that THIS time will be a lesson learned and THEY realize that this type of thing cannot continue to happen every 7-10 yrs. That what is truly unsustainable is NOT the losses these teams are taking financially, but the loss of fans gained over these last 7 yrs. Maybe they come back this time, but if this happens again they will surely find something better to spend their hard earned money on in these tough economic times that are hurting many of us.

      In the end whether we like it or not, the NHL needs its casual fans. It needs to gain more of them. WE need them, because in the end the casual fans are where the future TRUE hockey fans will come from. They insure sustainability, they insure growth and this league needs as much growth as it can get. I just truly HOPE that they realize there is a better way. Because through all of this with all the people they’ve hired on both sides to research what this lockout has done to fans opinions and sponsors trust, what else has to happen to make them realize they should thankful… VERY THANKFUL for the fans they’ve GOT!!

      • blomfeld - Dec 26, 2012 at 2:29 AM

        Blomfeld: who is this lone rider that speaks words of reason ?

        Ten Bears: maybe one of the soldiers who escaped from the fort ?

        Crazy Dog: he’s all alone, let’s kill him !

        Blomfeld: no brothers ! … I know this type of man and he is good … we will talk with him …

        Woodstakes – Excellent post yourself friend ! :) I and everyone else here at PHT hears “exactly” what you’re saying, yet you mustn’t ever let yourself get too down about this business. Look, I’m as sure that we’ll have NHL hockey starting next month, as I’m sure the sun will rise tomorrow! Now whether or not you part with your “hard-earned” dollars supporting these idiots is completely up to you. But never forget my friend that hockey is forever in your heart, just as it is with many of us … and that’s something that their stupid shenanigans can never take away from us! I was just talking about our old “road-hockey lingo” on some other article earlier and a few seconds after I signed off, my eyes were actually starting to water, so powerful are the emotions and memories still to this day. So be happy friend and let’s look forward to a great year, eh ? :)

        ps: hey man, there’s even an actual game starting today at 0400 hrs PST !

    • badintent - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:20 PM

      Great Video, but the priest looks like he’s about to fall asleep, probably from watching the news on the strike ! LOL

  8. sampulls - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Title says it all…..this lockout didn’t need to happen.
    And yes, Merry Christmas to all.

  9. capsfan19 - Dec 26, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    I too have consulted my friend and associate “Gandalf” to speak to the various sources around Middle Earth about the current situation. “Gandalf” has travelled throughout the lands and according to the Ents of Fangorn we should have a season starting in one hour! It has been forseen in the Ent moots around the woods.
    Come all friends to the Shire to celebrate this joyous and exuberant event!
    I promise you, in one hour hockey will return! I heard from my sources, you know my legitimate, inside, know it all sources. They tell me players are in the air, with pads on awaiting their arrival to their respective hometowns. Let’s all begin to flow our money in merchanise and NHL Center Ice game packages! It will happen, the bones… They speak!!

    (I’m sick and tired of people telling me that there’s going to be a season. I have a shred of hope but after people saying their “sources” were saying there would be a season back in September, October, November…. Seriously shut up, you dont know anyone on the inside just give it up. If the season does start when you claim then its by sheer coincidence at this point. You don’t know anything. I don’t know anything. The best we can do is ride it out.)

  10. sportsfan69 - Dec 26, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Kudos to Blomfeld and Woodstakes,

    Excellent points. The new CBA needs to be 10 years, with the option after 8 years. I doubt the players would opt out after 8 years. It would be a public relations nightmare for them.

  11. dbldmr - Dec 26, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    Grew up in New York and saw my first game in Madison Square Garden in 1955. I’ve been a fan for life, but the last lost season and this (soon to be) lost season has pretty well killed my interest. The Dallas Stars could count on me for two or three games a season, sometimes more. Now, I don’t care. I wonder how many more there are like me.

  12. rainyday56 - Dec 26, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    It’s a shame that it would be nearly impossible for fans to form an association,like the PA, that would have the power of boycott that could bring current NHL management to it’s knees. Near impossible because such an association would have to include corporate season ticket holders in order to have any teeth. Corporate season ticket holders would be onside with Bettman and Daly even if the two of them are pissing them off.

    Oh well, one could dream.

  13. jaybird22seven - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    At this level it isn’t a game anymore. It’s just business !!

  14. matt8204 - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    I never understood why there was so much optimism in the first place. They’ve already canceled one season, so why would they hesitate to do it again? They know most fans will be back. Also, look at the parties involved. Did anyone think Bettman and Fehr would back down easily?

  15. revansrevenant - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    The remnants of my tea say the season is doomed. I trust my tea more than I trust any “inside sources”, or for that matter, the crap coming out of the league and NHLPA. Perhaps analyzing the flight patterns of birds will tell me more.

  16. chrisvegas - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    The whole thing really is pathetic and embarrassing. The NHL owners really don’t do a good job running this league. They start franchises in cities that can’t afford them and then they demand the players pay for their poor business decisions resulting in we the fans enduring a lockout every 7 years. Pathetic. Ya the players have their faults in this as well, but who is to say in ten years with a different group of players that these same owners won’t be in another lockout. I have to put my anger to the constant in this repeating tragedy, the owners and Bettman are the constant. The players will continue to change but we are left with these same chumps. While I am desperately hoping the season will be saved, when the owners put forth their first insulting offer I never expected there to be a season and I wouldn’t be surprised if these idiots don’t get one done in time for next season. Blame the the constant in this never ending string of lockouts, the owners and Bettman. NHL fans would have been better served in the NFL was successful in buying the NHL 7 years ago. Say what you want about the NFL, but they know how to run their league and keep the fans happy.

  17. canuckinamerica - Dec 26, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Being a rabid hockey fan all of my life, having been born and raised in Montreal then living in Toronto for 18 years before becoming a “Yank”, and as a subscriber to the NHL Package the past number of years, I will honestly say…..”I don’t give a rat’s butt” anymore. My entertainment dollars are being put to good use elsewhere, I am thoroughly enjoying non-professional sports (collegiate and the like) more and getting my hockey fix at AHL games (nice to get into a game and have a few pops for under $25 to watch kids busting their humps to get to the next level), while perusing hockey to catch all the best scraps from all leagues. I will never PAY to watch another NHL game and certainly will not miss $30 parking, $12 bad beer and $8 “cold” dogs.

    • williplett - Dec 27, 2012 at 5:12 AM

      The pro-owner people here will call you a liar who will be back as soon as the CBA is signed, but this kind of stuff is poison to the NHL. The league is alienating fans and the owners who have billions are-as always-calling the shots. They tried to crush the NHLPA and risked everything to get a roll back and other concessions from the players. You might actually be able to wash your hands or you may be back in a few years, but either way the NHL cannot afford to keep bleeding fans this way.

  18. 950003cups - Dec 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    It’s all BS.. They point fingers at each other. But once they strike a deal, they’ll all say how they respect the other side and are glad that they came to agree to this wonderful deal. Then they will all unite against us (the fans) when they tell us how sorry they are about all this and subsequently increase ticket prices to make up for the money they were all fighting over.

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