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NHL Lockout Looms

September 11, 2012

Features, Hockey

As the summer draws to a close and fall is almost upon us, we still have no guarantee of an NHL season at all.

In fact, we’re only about 100 hours away from that frightening deadline NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has set for a deal to be reached between the owners and the Player’s Association. The worries we have carried all summer are about to be realized on Saturday, September 15. Unless we witness a miracle, the National Hockey League will have its third lockout in a mere 18 years.

All the storylines, all the goals, all the fights, and all the Saturday nights with Ron Maclean and Don Cherry on CBC, are only a distant memory right now…Will the Los Angeles Kings continue their unexpected dominance of the Western Conference? How will Rick Nash do this year with his new team, the New York Rangers? Is Nail Yakupov – Edmonton’s third straight No. 1 overall draft pick – the missing piece for the Oilers?

All these questions are on hold. As a die-hard hockey fan for the past seven years, I can’t believe we’re about to witness another lockout. No matter how long it is, unless a deal is reached, a lockout is a lockout. The bottom line is no professional hockey on our continent until both sides of the debate can agree. You would think that after the travesty that was the 2004-05 NHL season – Hint, it didn’t exist! – nobody would ever let something equivalent occur. And after all of this heartbreak, Gary Bettman says the NHL has the “greatest fans.”

Greatest fans? I can’t think of how many people I’ve been around recently who didn’t even realize a lockout was in the mix. Why? The American media, particularly ESPN, has done a god awful job at covering the 2012 off-season, and the so-far failed CBA negotiations. When I say god-awful I mean nearly non-existent. Hardly any headline news at all, leaving millions of hockey fans in the United States out of the loop. Yes, the NHL has some great fans, but plenty of people who wouldn’t even notice when it was gone. If only the fans could legitimately give up on the league and show Mr. Bettman what happens without the most important piece of the puzzle.

Sadly, hockey is the most exhilarating sport in the world to watch, and we fans just couldn’t go through with something so sacrilegious. Just imagine what we’re missing this coming year! No open-ice hits from Niklas Kronwall, no follow up to a great playoff campaign by goaltender Braden Holtby, no chance for Martin Brodeur to finish his career in style! And I have to mention it, no games with 346 penalty minutes (I’m talking to you New York and Pittsburgh!).

It’s been a long time since Hockey Night in Canada hasn’t been a staple of my Saturday night, things are going to be different this fall…I can honestly think of no better cliffhanger to be left with. I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, becoming a big follower of hockey immediately after the previous lockout. In all that time, Toronto’s the only team that hasn’t put together a playoff squad, how’s that for a disappointment? As much as I love stars Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, they haven’t gotten it done. Seven years of broken promises, and now a lockout looms. I’ve learned how to accept defeat when my #1 team is down and out; I have yet to learn how to accept no game whatsoever. I guess I’ll need to wait even longer for that Stanley Cup parade down Yonge Street…

The only good news is that there are still minor league teams to cheer for. Going to college at Central Michigan University means there’s no NCAA team to watch, but the club hockey team will certainly do. The games are played in a local barn in 40 degree conditions, in front of a few dozen fans, if that. Nonetheless I find the action quick and exciting to follow, especially when you can get in for free as a student! The OHL, AHL, CHL and ECHL aren’t going anywhere either, but where will the aspiring talents of those leagues go? Not a very promising future for NHL hopefuls…

All I hope is that the players and owners can hash a deal together quickly and muster up some sort of excuse for the 2012-13 season. Even if we saw a 10-game season (hypothetically), it’s still a season. I just need the assurance that something good will happen, because right now I give Gary Bettman and the other owners a vote of no confidence.

Justin Orminski

Jnjo92.blogspot.com

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One Comment on “NHL Lockout Looms”

  1. daschound Says:

    While I’m not a fan of hockey, I have been thinking about getting into it. I completely agree with ESPN not really representing the Hockey community to well. Lack of following and coverage, but it’s VERY sad to see the league and players at it (as your article states) for the third time in under two decades. I don’t have the backround information but greed can ruin so much.

    Reply

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