by The Milton Measure on Friday, October 5th, 2012
The biggest fear of all hockey fans has become a reality. Last Friday, the National Hockey League (NHL) cancelled all of its preseason games, and based on past NHL lockouts, this is a sign that things may take a turn for the worse.
The NHL and the NHLPA (National Hockey League Player’s Association) resumed talks this past weekend; however, they discussed no economic details. Surprisingly, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was not present for most of the talks, which is being taken as a “slap to the face” by the NHLPA and the general public. In addition, the NHL is taking their time during negotiations, cancelling talks for this past Monday to “recollect their thoughts.” Put it this way: the more time negotiations take, the probability of a 2012-2013 NHL season decreases.
Already, some big name stars have considered the season to be lost and have gone across the pond to play in Europe. Russian Superstars Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin are playing in the Russian KHL League, while Nikolai Zherdev has already stolen the spotlight on SportsCenter with his spectacular goal for Atlant Moscow Oblast. The growing concern is that more players will follow, and that these players will get hurt and not be able to rejoin their teams in the odd chance that the lockout will end. The latter has already happened, as New York Rangers forward Rick Nash has suffered a shoulder injury playing in the Swedish Elite League. Many other players have shown interest in following these players and will play abroad if the NHL delivers the verdict of a canceled season.
This is not the first time that the NHL has experienced a lockout. The first time the NHL had to cancel games due to the lack of a collective bargaining agreement was in the 1991-1992 season. During that year, the season was shortened from 82 to 52 games. Later, in the 1994-1995 season, tensions flared again between the two parties, leading to a strike and shortened season of 48 games. The same happened in the 2004-2005 season, with the entire season being cancelled. This time, the NHL and the owners want to reduce the percentage of the profits shared with the players, while the players want to keep the current profit sharing structure and to keep the signing bonus option in their contracts. This is the fourth lockout on Gary Bettman’s watch, which is very alarming considering that before Bettman assumed his position in 1991, the NHL had played 74 seasons without ever cancelling a significant number of games.
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