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A strike in 1992, then a lockout in 1994 with 468 games lost including the All-Star Game. Since the problem progressed steadily in 2004 another lockout occurred, but this time going even further and resulting in cancellation of the entire season. If the trend is to continue we need to wonder what will happen this time.

NHL Lockout

Every time the money was the issue. Which is understandable, isn’t it? So, should we ask ourselves what will happen the next time the collective bargaining agreement expires? Every time this happens we get problems in the NHL. Players want more, owners offer less, and the problem keeps occurring. It has actually come into their business strategies, and the examples are the signings of long-term contracts with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. These were $98,000,000 deals for 13 years, which seemed like a great idea for the players, but now it seems that those players were signed hoping that the new agreement would reduce their earnings. Now, that’s not fair. Luring them in, and then not honoring your part of the deal. The players are really united about their request to honor individual contracts. They can’t let this one go, since the owners were really unfair about this, and if this works out for them, we need to wonder what would be next.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter

But, this lockout is different from the previous ones. Why? Well, the owners didn’t really care about the season the previous times. So, why do they care now? Well, they will have to pay bonuses for new signings regardless of the lockout, which means that they need to generate revenue to do this painlessly and no games means no revenue. So, if you get the impression they care, don’t think it’s because of their love for the sport, or their dedication to the fans. It’s the money again.

On the other hand, we do need to understand the needs of the owners to some extent, since huge money is in the game, and they need to secure themselves. So they will need a firm deal, not a widely conditional agreement and surely not something that they are not sure they can honor in the next couple of years. In the long run, this would be good for both sides.

Still, most of the secondary problems should be resolved in favor of the players. The owners are asking for over $1,000,000,000 in concessions, but also for longer free agency wait and no signing bonuses and a salary cap. This is just too much protection, I believe.

Both sides need to be honest. No spinning, no PR wars, no dirty press conferences. If they want the deal, they need to make it just that. A DEAL, not a war of announcements aimed at getting the public support. Not worrying about who won, since this way everyone loses. The players need to be a bit more practical, and forgive the mentioned misdeeds, while the owners need to accept that things have changed a great deal since 2004, and that Fehr is a lot tougher opponent keeping his party all together.

Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr

Finally, the fans are fed up with this. They are the ones who are really losing here. Just like many other things, the sport they love is suffering due to money grabbing issues. And this is just that. The previous lockout resulted in a salary cap that made the league more interesting, but this is a battle over money, and that’s all it is. The fans might just get too angry to come back to the sport if this thing continued for too long. So, dear players and owners, DEAL WITH IT ALREADY!