Once again, it has become apparent that there will not be hockey in North America any time soon.
The NHL Lockout has reached a stage far beyond what fans were willing to tolerate. The league had already canceled all games through the end of November, and announced that an 82-game season would not be possible.
Recently, however, the worst news was announced. The Winter Classic would be canceled.
The game has been an extremely popular event since its inception in 2008. Played in large outdoor stadiums, every game has been filled to capacity and has drawn a great deal of television viewers.
This year, the Winter Classic was scheduled to be played in Michigan Stadium between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. Unfortunately, the league decided to cancel it due to logistical concerns (via ESPN).
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard represented fans of the sport from around the world with his comments:
It's definitely very disappointing. Not only was I looking forward to it but so were all my friends and family. It was going to be a great event not just for us but all the businesses and hotels and fans excited to see us and Toronto play.
He points out that this hurts not only emotionally but also fiscally, as this was one of the biggest events of the year.
While both sides of the negotiating table should use this as motivation to get a deal done, it will likely only stall talks even more. A key component in these types of deals is a deadline, but there seems to be none in this case.
Officials wanted to get a deal done before the last CBA ended, but that passed. Then, the worst case was to allow games to be canceled. After that, it was not being able to complete a full season. Next, it was the Winter Classic.
In every case, the deadline passed with the players' union being no closer to reaching an agreement with the owners.
When positive news came out that there were some discussions, NHLPA representative Donald Fehr shot them down, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post:
2/2 Fehr: "There have been no proposals from either side since Oct. 18. You should not read too much into reports of informal phone calls."— Larry Brooks(@NYP_Brooksie) November 3, 2012
Even if the two sides do get together, face-to-face, is there any reason to believe things will be better this time? Instead, it will likely be more proposals that are far apart.
There are two very different mindsets of how the revenue should be divided in the coming years.
Unfortunately, these negotiations will continue to be drawn out—while fans are the ones who lose the most.
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