“This blog was supposed to be my first blog not related to sports, but out of the blue the NHL has ended the lockout and I had said I would only write articles and pieces about Hockey once the lockout ended so here you go.”
Words many did not think they would hear until the summer time or even later. The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to a tentative deal and now the NHL can start the season. The new deal will run for 10 years till September 2022, with an option to terminate the deal after eight years. The players managed to fix their pension plan, they have agreed to a limit on signing free agent contracts which is 7 years and 8 if it is a contract extension with their own team and the somehow (although it was agreed upon a while ago). They managed to agree on a 50-50 split on revenue which honestly was a no-brainer because 50-50 is equal, but I digress, there are still a few votes that need to go through with the board of governors and players association to have an agreement with this deal and there are a few other things to be ironed out, but all in all the NHL is back! There is of course the problem of what has been the cost for this ridiculous lockout that should have ended a while ago, or maybe should have never happened in the first place.
The NHL now faces an uphill battle with gaining the fans trust and support back. The NHL and the NHLPA aided in damaging their images while the lockout was going on in the fall, for the longest time it was just a PR battle and who would win it. They were so wound up about winning that portion of the lockout that they seemed to forget the fans did not care whatsoever about who was at fault and who was right or wrong, all they knew was it was both sides that were at fault and wrong. Many of the fans have turned their back on the NHL and gave their allegiance to other sports like the NFL, NBA, or just did other things instead of watching hockey and it is completely understandable since throughout the past 20 years there has been a total of 3 lockouts 1994-95, 2004-2005 and the one we just went through 2012-2013 so you cannot blame the fans who have given up on this league, they have been given many reasons to give up.
There are many fans especially Canadian hockey fans who are happy the NHL is back, but are very skeptic on fully trusting the league and it may take them a long time to trust them again, there has been so many issues that the NHL has dropped the ball on that I am even afraid to make a list, but I will denote some. Some of the big issues was the fact that it took the league forever to make penalties and rules against head shots, the fact that a majority vote for the honors is about 8 owners to agree not the full 30, the constant bad judgment by people like Colin Campbell when it came to suspensions and fines. There was also Gary Bettman calling out Air Canada when they threatened to pull their sponsorship after the Chara and Pacioretty incident when the NHL did nothing about it, the list goes on and on. Of course there is the fact that not everything is perfect, but this lockout was a joke. It made the NHL look pathetic, the fact that it was Millionaires vs. Billionaires made it even worse; it almost made the whole league look like a bunch of overpaid babies who could not get along. Yes Gary Bettman apologized, but to most fans it is a lockout too late.
Now it is time for the start of the new season to unfold and already there have been some interesting developments, the main one being Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke getting fired just days before the training camp will be beginning, which has thrown people off guard because although he has not done a great job with the Leafs at all, however, one would think that he would be given a chance until this season ended. Of course there is also the topic of the Roberto Luongo trade rumors and other rumors about signing restricted free agents like the Montreal Canadiens PK Subban. It already seems as though there was never a lockout to begin with, all of the rumors and the sports channels are analyzing every team and determining who they feel will win it all! Personally I feel that we should not forget what the NHL has put us through while they argued and lost half of a season to make rich people stay rich. I am excited, but I know I will not forget and hope that a lot of fans do not forget either. Right now though, it is time for the puck to drop and time to watch a game we all love, hockey.
So now they start up a week of training camp and then the season begins and the fans will slowly get into watching hockey and cheering for their favorite teams again and I will be no different, I will be watching the NHL and cheering for my team and going out with friends to watch the game, you know, the usual fun. However, I will not forget the fact that another season was very close to being lost because of greed. Maybe in ten years it will be a new person running the league, or at least the old boys club kicked out or let all the owners have a say in what goes on instead of 8 owners who have not been very helpful in the whole ordeal. Only time will tell what damage this lockout has done since the fans and arena employees suffered the most from it, but since I am still an avid hockey fan even though I am still a bit disgusted by this recent lockout, which again will take time to fully heal, I will be watching hockey just like many of you when the puck drops and just like many of you I’ll be cheering my team on.