Monday, 10 September 2012
Why The NHL Is Doomed For a Lockout
Time left until September 15 is ticking as fast as a Zdeno Chara slap shot, yet the NHL and NHLPA are taking their sweet time in negotiating a new CBA. Just like everyone else I was puzzled and frustrated by the lack of urgency between the two sides to start the season. While listening to the Fan 590 this weekend, I was introduced to a new theory of whats going. The reason there is no urgency to get a deal done is because they don't want to get a deal done!
You're probably thinking i'm out to lunch with this idea, "of course the two sides want to get a deal done." You're right the two sides do want to orchestrate a new deal but not as quickly as the fans are hoping. So why are they in no hurry to work out a new CBA? Because neither the owners nor the players care about the first two months of the season! The NHL season of 82 games is a pretty long season, the games played in October and beginning of November don't really play a major part in who wins the Stanley Cup. Besides the die hard hockey fans who really follows hockey before Christmas, especially in America?
Interestingly enough the NHL's television deal with NBC and some other American networks doesn't kick in until January (Winter Classic). The majority of fans, players and owners could care less about the games in the first two months, which is why we will not see hockey before mid November at least! That may not be a bad thing for the NHL after all Americans are consumed by football, basketball and baseball until after Christmas anyways.
Remember a year ago when the NBA was going through the pains of working out a new CBA and we laughed at them for cancelling games before Christmas? Well the NBA season still worked out, in fact they had more viewers because of the shorter season and still made tons of money, not to mention no one even talks about their mini-lockout! It turns out Gary Bettman was paying a little to much attention to the NBA and wants try and imitate what they did.
When you really think about it, it makes perfect sense! It explains why instead of taking every single chance to meet the two sides have cancelled several meetings, explains why the NHLPA took their sweet time sending a proposal to the league and explains why Bettman thinks the fans will be back.... because they returned to the NBA.
The only problem with Bettman's experiment is hockey isn't nearly as popular as the NBA. The NBA could afford to take that risk as roughly 8 million people tune in to watch games. The NBA unlike the NHL was not threatening their third lockout in the last 18 years. NBA fans have been loyal as a result they've been awarded with basketball. NHL fans are loyal yet are faced with our third lockout in less than 20 years. Sorry Mr. Between but your logic is off.
The NHL is playing a very dangerous game any sort of delay on the season will hurt the game. Good news for fans is Bettman and the league would be absolutely crazy to lose out on the winter classic. It's a major money-making event and a chance for the league to reach out to Americans. This year the winter classic features two of the largest hockey markets in Toronto and Detroit, two original 6 teams. If the NHL were not to have the game they would lose millions of dollars, something Bettman and the league wont let happen.
Whether we like it or not the first two months of the season mean nothing to veteran players, owners or Bettman. If the NHL can figure a way of getting out of the first two months they will take that opportunity, even if it means a lockout/work stoppage. After seeing the NBA still have a successful season despite not starting till December, Bettman and the NHL want to see if it will work for them. After all the average fan would rather watch a game that has playoff implications rather than a meaningless game.
They say "Imitation is the sincerest from of flattery" and it appears the NHL is trying to follow the path the NBA took last season; Who cares about the first 2 months?