The Doomsday Clock is ticking towards midnight. The NHL and the Players' Association have only a few days to try to reach a labor agreement before a lockout comes into effect. The rhetoric is getting louder on both sides, but no one seems willing to move much from their present position.
Let's assume that, as promised, the NHL locks out its players on September 15. Here's a look at how the Vancouver Canucks might be impacted by a work stoppage.
According to capgeek.com, the Canucks currently have 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies on their main roster. All free agents except Byron Bitz have been re-signed.
Four Canucks are on two-way contracts: Zack Kassian, Andrew Ebbett, Aaron Volpatti and Chris Tanev. They're the most likely to land with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. More minor league development could mean more playing time, but all four are looking to play with the big squad this season.
Top players who want to play will likely head to Europe. Only a few of the Canucks are old enough to have been down this road during the 2004-05 lockout.
The Sedin twins played with their hometown MODO of the Swedish Elite league, but Pro Hockey Talk is passing along word from a Swedish paper that Daniel and Henrik plan to stay in Vancouver this time unless the entire season is canceled.
Manny Malhotra also played in Europe last time, but hasn't indicated yet that he's looking to go again. It's probably not a sign that he's changing careers, but last week Malhotra worked out with the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer (per Sportsnet).
The lockout works to Ryan Kesler's advantage, giving him plenty of time to rehab his summer shoulder surgery. According to Harrison Mooney of the Vancouver Sun, since Kesler's injury is hockey related and he won't be ready at the start of the season, he will still be paid in the event of a lockout until such time as he's deemed fit to play.
Farmhands like Jordan Schroeder and Steve Pinizzotto are hoping to have a chance to make an impact with the Canucks this season. A lockout means they'll have to bide their time a little longer.
The Canucks were well served by their farm team after the last lockout. Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and Rick Rypien developed their hockey skills and some strong personal bonds while serving time with the Manitoba Moose in 2004-05.
The Canucks' situation in net remains unsettled, but Cory Schneider once again did a great job of playing things cool when interviewed Monday during an informal workout at UBC.
David Ebner of The Globe and Mail reports that Schneider and Luongo did speak during the summer, and that Schneider's not worried about a timeline for a trade: “No stress,” Schneider said. “I’m not stressed. It’s not something that they’re just going to do on a whim, or that they’re going to solve easily.”
Luongo is expected in town on Wednesday for a charity golf tournament. His only hockey action during the 2004-05 lockout was a two-game appearance for Canada at the World Championships.
The lockout creates a pause at an awkward time for the Canucks. After several years of success on the ice, Canuck fans' current lingering memory is Jarret Stoll's overtime winner from Game 5 of the first round, knocking the Canucks into an early summer that now looks to extend indefinitely.
The current Vancouver Canucks are an elite hockey team, and it seems sad that they won't be convening as usual to start working their magic in October.
As we lament the lost wages for arena workers and the lost revenues to sports bars and restaurants, let's not forget that the money and time normally spent on the Canucks will likely be channeled into other areas. Season ticket holders have made their usual payments to the team, but their game-day spending will likely be burning a hole in their pockets. More casual fans will also be looking for things to do.
The BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps will get more attention from fans and media as they wind into the late stages of their schedules. The WHL's Vancouver Giants should enjoy a boost in their already-strong attendance and even the AHL Abbotsford Heat might gain some much-needed traction in the marketplace.
Other entertainment providers could also benefit from bored hockey fans with extra disposable income. Restaurants, movies, live theatre—even the opera could see spikes in their business.
I wonder how many Canucks fans are purchasing NHL 13 right now with an eye towards running their own seasons?
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