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Mike Maniscalco

NHL ends lockout, will they learn from it?

Posted January 6, 2013

It should have never come to this, it should have never taken this long, but after months of putting hockey fans through the ringer, there will be an NHL season.

It will not be a full slate of 82 games – the lockout stretching past November ensured that – but at least there will be something. After 113 days, the two sides finally hammered out a deal that more than likely was on the table months ago.

During the press conferences announcing the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, neither side should take credit for this nor use the phrase, “This is a great day.” It is 113 days too late to say that this is great.

The NHL needs to finally learn that it can’t keep locking players out. After talking to several business owners in Raleigh and asking them what would happen if they closed their doors to get things straightened out, the unanimous answer was that there would be no business to reopen.

The NHL owners and league front office can never let this happen again. The NHL is not the NFL or NBA and, in most markets in the southern part of the United States, the NHL are well behind college sports. To lock the doors and force business elsewhere is insane, a move the league has done three times in 20 years. In 10 years or so, when this new CBA needs to be tweaked, they cannot lock the doors again. If they do, they may as well just pack up shop. Hopefully out of all the acrimony between these two sides, the owners see that the players really love the game and just want to play.

The owners also need to see that the league will be better with fewer have-nots and to be on the same page to make sure that the league grows. Infighting with the owners is as damaging as the discourse between players and management.

One more thing: Don’t sign contracts that you don’t intend to pay.

The NHLPA needs to understand that, while their sport is profitable, they won’t reap those benefits if there is no league to play in.

The players did not go on strike, a point that should have been reinforced by the Players Association, but they aren’t void of blame. It appeared there were several times that a deal could have been done sooner that just didn’t happen because Donald Fehr kept pushing the envelope a little farther.

Hopefully this deal has enough to keep the players satisfied moving forward and keep them on the ice.

In the future, the NHLPA needs to know that their sport will never be the No. 1, No. 2, and after this lockout, even the third most popular in the States. So when economic times are tough, concessions need to be made to make sure that the league can keep going.

This won’t make people happy, but Fehr did his job for the players. However, next time Don, find a way to get it done sooner.

As for the fans, it is entirely up to you if you come back to the NHL. If you never buy a ticket again for that product, no one should blame you. For the fans that will never leave the game, it is your decision to show your displeasure with the league and no one should tell you that you are wrong if you are thrilled that it is back or that you could care less about its return. For the fans that stay with the game, the NHL needs to pull out all the stops to thank them.

The roller coaster ride left a terrible taste in fans' mouths, maybe worse than in 2004-05. It will take more than writing 'thank you' on the ice and a few handouts to give a sufficient apology to the people that feel betrayed by how senseless the lockout was. 

There will be some hard feelings and there should be. The third lockout in Bettman’s tenure as commissioner was the most irrational in the history of modern sport. Both sides knew that a compromise needed to be made and a new deal had to be struck, but ego too many times intervened. There is plenty of blame to go around for why this deal took so long and finger pointing will still be done by both sides.

But for right now, the long day’s journey into night is over. There will be NHL games, great goals, amazing saves and a Stanley Cup presentation. It doesn’t erase everything, but after all that did not happen in these 113 days, it is nice to have thoughts about the NHL playing games instead of canceling them.

30 Comments

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  • GunnyGoesBaaaarf Jan 7, 8:08 p.m.

    You people are a bunch of crybabies!!!!! Just enjoy the game. Thats why we go.STH for 5 years.... View More

    — Posted by mlusardi

    Glad to hear that! The Canes need more folks like you. Hey, remember what happened after the last lockout? The Cup came to Raleigh!!!! Go Canes!

  • hockey nut Jan 7, 5:29 p.m.

    As a life-long fan (& player in college), I wish I were more excited. I believe the players and owners have significantly (and permanently?) damaged the sport of professional hockey. I won't be buying any tickets.

  • kstan1006 Jan 7, 5:26 p.m.

    Firstly, for you folks that don't care for hockey, why do you bother to post anything? I am very glad to see the arena packed yesterday and the PNC employees back at work. Did I agree with the lockout, not a for one minute. But if you are a real fan, not a casual one how can you forsake your team (the players). All of what happened was not their fault..they had help with the NHL. While I do agree all of this took way to long, I am glad to see it is coming back and the revenue being put back in the area. LET'S GO CANES. Make the best of what is left.

  • mlusardi Jan 7, 5:00 p.m.

    You people are a bunch of crybabies!!!!! Just enjoy the game. Thats why we go.STH for 5 years. We also earned 5% for 4 months toward next year. My family will be there---LOUD & PROUD!!!!

  • Obamacare lives on Jan 7, 3:47 p.m.

    These knuckle babies won't learn a thing from this. We can expect another work stoppage in say, another 5 years from now.

  • edd189 Jan 7, 3:04 p.m.

    You're kidding, there was no hockey season this year due to a lock out. I hadn't even noticed. Looks like the world kept spinning without it, something to keep in mind for the players and the owners. The owners and the players need hockey more than the fans need it.

  • ItIsJustMe Jan 7, 9:11 a.m.

    I haven't read about what was agreed to in order to end the lockout. But, my question is, what did the fans get out of the deal? Fans are the most important part of this relationship... who was at the table looking after the interests of the fans? I know what the answer is... the interests of the fans don't matter to the players and owners, and since the fans have no voice and apparently don't matter, I am no longer a fan. I won't help to continue filling the pockets of these greedy people, continue to help them experience record profits, continue to spend my money paying people who have made it clear they don't care about fans. If the NHL can limp along and come back and even make it to the the expiration of this CBA, the greed will be there again and there will be another lockout.

  • same ole story Jan 7, 9:10 a.m.

    FANS NEED TO BOYCOTT FOR TWICE AS LONG AS THEY WERE LOCKED OUT at least the rest of the so called season. Wait until they give the center ice package for free and reduce ticket prices for the greedy sides!!!

  • vance203 Jan 7, 9:09 a.m.

    I'm not a Bettman fan, by any means, but I can't see why all the blame is resting on his shoulders (at least from the media standpoint). Wasn't this CBA set to expire a year ago? Both sides agreed to extend it out a year. So they had a full year to come up with something new. They did not.

    After the Kings lifted the Cup in June, the very next thing should have been to work on a new agreement. Fehr put them off. How many proposals did the NHL present before they had to tell the union to come up with their own proposal? The union had no desire whatsoever to make this a fast process. Now I'm not defending the initial NHL proposals...I thought a couple of points were a little far-fetched, but you have to start somewhere.

    It took until the drop-dead last possible point to come up with an agreement to salvage any kind of a season, and voila!...and agreement is reached.

    Both sides have a lot of damage control to do, but I'd love to see an article pointing fingers at Fehr. I just hope Fehr hasn't destroyed hockey the way he destroyed baseball (I stopped watching baseball on his watch).

  • Boogalooboy Jan 7, 7:43 a.m.

    heelsyes1 we finally agree on something...but we may be more entertained at a goat roping..

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