NHL Lockout: Can Any Good Actually Come from the Lockout?
The NHL lockout is nightmarish for hockey fans and athletes.
It would seem to be just as bad for NHL owners, but they are the ones initiating this job action by keeping players out of the workplace and having their pit-bull commissioner, Gary Bettman, negotiate with a hard-line status.
There are potential benefits to the lockout; some of which are tangible, while other aspects may be a bit more theoretical.
Injured Players Rehab
Injuries are a part of the game.
They always have been, and they always will be.
No matter what rule-changes the NHL employs to bring about greater player safety, hockey players who skate fast, compete for the puck and fire that hard piece of vulcanized rubber at speeds up to 100 miles per hour are going to get hurt in game competition.
During a lockout, players who have been injured have a greater opportunity to get healthy again. They don't have to rush back into competition and they won't feel pressure to be rushed back into the lineup.
Many players re-aggravate injuries when they start playing before they have completed their rehab.
That won't happen during the lockout.
Hockey coaches have always cited factors like work ethic when describing what it takes to become an excellent hockey player.
During a lockout, the players with the greatest work ethic will prepare even harder for the upcoming season that will take place once the lockout finally comes to an end.
Many of these players are playing in European leagues in order to stay sharp and be ready when it's time to get back to work in the NHL.
Other players are skating and working out on their own. Those who work the hardest will be best prepared for action.
In a shortened season, every game means even more than it does during a standard 82-game regular season.
Players may end up competing in anywhere between 48 and 70 games this season—a lower figure seems more likely at this point—and the fewer the games, the more they will mean in the standings.
As a result, players will fight harder for two points than they might normally do in a standard season. This will make regular-season games even more exciting and more meaningful once the lockout comes to an end.
The NHL owners are locking out players because there is no current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NHL Players' Association.
One of the key issues in the lockout is the division of Hockey Related Revenues (HRR).
Once the two sides come to an agreement on how to decide HRR, the owners will end the lockout because they will have the framework of a solid deal for both sides.
They will come to an agreement of between 6-10 years, which means there will be labor peace for that amount of time.
Gary Bettman is considered to be the architect of this lockout.
He has the backing of influential owners like Ed Snider of the Philadelphia Flyers and Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins.
According to author Jonathon Gatehouse's in-depth biography of Bettman, The Instigator: How Gary Bettman Remade the NHL and Changed the Game Forever, the commissioner has gained more power and influence since becoming commissioner in 1993.
There's no doubt that Bettman has brought significant financial advances (per the New York Times) to the league, but he has presided over three lockouts and he has caused significant damage with this latest lockout at a time when the league was making dramatic progress.
Some owners may take another look at Bettman and realize that his business acumen is not worth the trouble he has caused whenever the league's CBA with its players reaches its conclusion.
He may no longer be the dominant figure he is now when the lockout comes to an end.