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NHL Pucks; Still No Hockey

Sidney Crosby

Crosby is becoming more and more frustrated with the lockout as are the fans.

I remember the days of playing hockey on the pond behind the house where I grew up each winter. My friends and I were spoiled because we had a family on the other side of the pond who had rigged up a massive spotlight for their kids who were a generation older. Regardless of the hour of the night in the dead of winter, they would always turn the light on for us and occasionally even bring the hot cocoa down to us in the hours past midnight when the temps were routinely around zero.

From my pond in Michigan to lakes and ponds across the Northeast and Midwest to locations all over Canada and Europe, hockey was a sport of passion and love and I fear the National Hockey League is in the midst of destroying the game. Oh, it’ll survive and hockey will always remain a great game loved by millions and hated by others who just don’t understand it, but there is damage being done to it whether the NHL wants to admit or not.

The NHL Lockout of 2012 continues and while there was some glimmer of hope a week ago, I really don’t see anything happening anytime soon and that’s unfortunate. I suppose the good news is that some people at least remain positive. Special Counsel to the NHLPA Steve Fehr claims that once the particulars are agreed upon a deal could be done in just one or two days. The NHL didn’t seem quite as optimistic.

Gary Bettman

This look on NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's face speaks volumes.

The two major issues in this work-stoppage are the split of money and player contract rights. While two issues doesn’t seem like much, those are two very large issues and are now being joined by a third, who pays for the damages from this mess? There are thousands of employees who are out of work at arenas across the United States and Canada because the two sides cannot come to an agreement. Players are scattered around the North America, Europe and the former Soviet Union playing in all kinds of leagues trying to stay in playing shape. I suppose the inhabitants of those places in the world are reaping the benefits of having the world’s best players in their neighborhoods, but at some point, we need to get back to NHL hockey.

The idea of a third-party coming in to help mediate negotiations has been thrown out there but the owners seem far less interested in it than do the players. A sad development that could help get a deal quicker but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen one way or the other at this point.

Both sides do agree that the revenue-sharing side of things is much closer to a compromise than the issue of player contracts, but one can’t really get done without the other. Things like free agency and arbitration are areas the players have gained ground on and won’t give much there nor do I blame them.

At the current pace, experts believe that in order to get any kind of a season started on or near December 1st, a deal would need to be in place by the end of this week at the absolute latest. With so many games, including the Winter Classic already having been lost, the NHL Players and owners would be well-advised to get something done sooner rather than later.

Kids will still be on ponds playing at all hours of the day and night, but they certainly won’t be in any hurry to pass those traditions down to the future generations if they keep seeing the professional ranks treat the game like a hobby. It’s a passion and a love that is being ruined right now.

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