At 11:59 p.m. on September 15, 2012, hockey fans everywhere received the dreaded news that would potentially change their hobbies for the next eight months.
The NHL’s old collective bargaining agreement had officially expired without a clear-cut plan for a new one. The owners preceded to lock out their players since no agreement could be made.
Overall, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, the owners will not let their players play hockey.
Many NHL fans see the owners as the main problem in the situation since they are demanding limitations on many of the players’ rights and revenues. Cutting the revenues of a large group of players would in turn increase the money coming in to the owners.
One of the main modifications that the owners presented was a decrease of 57 percent to 46 percent in the players’ share of hockey-related revenue. Other smaller modifications include extending qualification for unrestricted free agency from seven years in the league to 10 and also setting a maximum limit of five years on all new players’ contracts.
For obvious reasons, the players strongly disagree with a new proposal set forth by the owners.
Helping to represent the NHL Players’ Association is Steve Fehr, who also helped set the current Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement in 2011. The players have been arguing for an increase in the percent of hockey-related revenue in their share from the owners’ plan, but no even ground has been reached.
The players also are calling for an unlinked salary cap that will steadily increase over a five-year period. This demand shows how far apart the owners and players are regarding their views on revenue and salary, with neither of them willing to cave in the near future.
Will there be an NHL season this year?
The biggest win for the players would be if the salary cap were to be terminated under the new collective bargaining agreement. Just like the MLB, no salary cap would mean higher salaries for the players since teams would not have to hold back in order to fit the cap.
Even though most owners would be able to afford going over the cap, they are strongly opposed to this point because this would mean paying the players more.
Even if all these points were to be resolved, a best-case scenario for the league would be a December 15th opening day, although that does not make up for the loss of multiple important games up to date.
In addition to the month-and-a-half already missed, the sixth annual Winter Classic has been canceled because of the ongoing labor disputes.
There is still hope that a shortened season can still occur, with much optimism being expressed throughout the student body. Since the players are playing overseas and still making salaries, it is the owners that have the most to lose.
There is even more pressure for the league to settle since they already lost a season due to a lockout in the 2004-2005 season.
A second lost season in nine years would majorly cripple the positive trends the league has seen in the past few years.