NHL Lockout: How Cancelling Games Until October 24 Hurts the New Jersey Devils
According to the NHL, the league has cancelled all regular season games up until October 24th, a total of 82 games to start the 2012-2013 season.
For the New Jersey Devils, they will lose a total of five games. Those games include their opening night faceoff against the Washington Capitals (10/12), their home opener against the Boston Bruins (10/13), and match-ups against the New York Rangers (10/17), Ottawa Senators (10/19), and Buffalo Sabres (10/24).
While many people expected the cancellation of regular season games after watching the ongoing negotiations, it still comes as a disappointment that the league will not reach a deal on time. If anyone is going to hurt from missing games, it will be the Devils.
New Jersey will be losing three marquee games in the first week alone, two of those being home games.
First, they will lose a match up between Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin to start the season on opening night. The game would have been a battle between two of the best Russian players in the NHL, and would be one of the better games on the first Friday of the season.
That game in Washington would have also been the first matchup against former assistant coach Adam Oates. Oates was not well liked by fans in the Devils organization, but he still helped New Jersey reach the Stanley Cup Final last season. Oates took the head coach job with the Capitals shortly after the season ended.
After their first game, the Devils would have opened up Prudential Center with a matchup against the Boston Bruins. There was no word on whether or not New Jersey would be raising the Eastern Conference Championship banner, but the building would surely be rocking after their long playoff run last season.
The same can be said about their first matchup against the New York Rangers, the first time those two teams would face each other since the Eastern Conference Finals. Regardless of which day of the week it is, Prudential Center always has a playoff atmosphere when the Devils and Rangers take on one another.
The Devils would also lose another home game against Ottawa before traveling to Buffalo for the first end of a home and home. In all, the Devils will lose five quality games that they can't afford to lose.
The fans are ultimately the biggest losers, but an organization that already has $160 million in debt can not afford to lose three great home games. There is no doubt that Prudential Center would be sold out for both the Boston and New York games, and if the momentum continued through the beginning of the year they may have sold out Ottawa as well.
New Jersey needs hockey to support itself, both for the organization and the state. Congressmen have spoken out pleading with the NHL to end the lockout or risk the loss of jobs and income, and the debt owed by the organization will not be paid if there is no hockey being played in Newark.
According to Tom Gulitti, there is a chance that these games could be rescheduled later in the season if the league reaches an agreement soon. However, he also noted that this scenario is unlikely if the pace of negotiations continues the way it has.
Five games don't seem like a lot, but at the end of the day losing any sort of games will automatically disrupt the way fans enjoy the game. Taking away the things that loyal followers love will not be taken lightly, and if those games aren't rescheduled and the season doesn't have a full 82 games, the NHL will suffer for their mistakes.
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