Should fans be happy that the lockout is over, or upset it took so long for a new deal to be reached?
Lockout. Just the very word can send shivers down a sports fans’ spine. The agonizing thought that an individual cannot watch their beloved team on a regular basis because millionaires are squabbling with millionaires over miniscule details is almost unbearable.
Fortunately for hockey fans, and after 113 days of negotiations, arguments, proposals, and meetings, the NHL lockout finally ended around 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning. It did not come easy, as nothing associated with lockouts ever are, but after a 16 hour session, the League and the National Hockey League Players Association were able to reach a new ten year agreement and were able to save this season by proposing a 48 or 50 game schedule.
The players’ share of hockey related income last year was a record $3.3 billion. However, that has been dropped from 57% to an even 50-50 split with the owners. Further changes are that the salary cap for the now strike-shortened season is $70.2 million and will then go down to $64.3 million in the 2013-14 season. Also, all clubs will be required to have a minimum payroll of $44 million.
So what were the costs of this six month long lockout? It is estimated that over $550 million was lost in revenue and players missed five of their thirteen pay checks. 40% of the season was cancelled including the fan favorite Winter Classic traditionally held on New Year’s Day as well as the NHL All-Star game.
Unfortunately, those losses cannot even compare to what the true losses were as a result of the lockout. Countless employees of the NHL franchises not only had their hours limited, but some workers of these teams had to be let go entirely due to the lack of income being brought in due to the absence of games. It was not the millionaire owners or the millionaire hockey players that were truly losing out because of the lockout, but rather all the other workers that have their livelihood dependent on whether there is a season or not.
Furthermore, this lockout was embarrassing to the league and consequently to the fans of the league. The National Hockey League is the only North American sports league that has lost a full season due to a lockout (in 2004-05) and was on the verge of having another one eight years later. Hockey fans are some of the most loyal people to their respective teams, and they might be thrilled that some sort of season will be played out this year. However, they should not be so quick to forgive and forget.
The NHL should be ashamed for what they put their fans and employees through. Supporters of teams should not have to wonder every eight or ten years if a season is going to be played nor should workers at these club venues have to wonder if they will have a job in the morning because millionaires are fighting over profits. Fans and workers alike should be happy that there will be a season, as it will not only provide entertainment but also employment, but the league and players should know that these lockouts are too frequent and are simply unacceptable.