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The Ridiculousness of the NHL Lockout
On Friday the NHL canceled games through December 14 and the All Star Weekend set for Columbus, Ohio on January 26 and 27. And so the lockout drags on.
I have not written extensively about the lockout here besides the occasional plea for the NHL to start playing again. I was always optimistic that the NHL was aping the NBA's lockout from last season when they suddenly came to an agreement the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Here we are, and there is no sign that the two sides are close to anything much less an agreement.
When the NHL canceled the 2004-05 season, they wanted a salary cap and change the economic fundamentals of the game. The owners won, sort of. Their idiocy contained a loophole where they could circumvent the salary cap giving players a heavily front-loaded 16 year contracts. In fact just two months before the owners locked out the players, the Minnesota Wild owners gave both Ryan Suter and Zach Parise matching 13-year, $98 million contracts.
When baseball lost the 1994 season thanks to strike, both the players and the owners realized they couldn't go down that road again. Thankfully steroids saved the game, but it took a while before baseball was able to recover from the stoppage. Since then, no work stoppage.
Unfortunately the NHL isn't quite so smart. The 1992 strike lasted 10 days and couldn't avert a lockout from 1994 to 1995 that shortened the season to 48 games. A decade later the 2004-05 lockout wiped out the entire season and just eight years later here we are again.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has now presided over the last three lockouts, yet he seems more than content to take the league down this road. After all we hockey fans will come back slobbering when or if they drop the puck again. Or will they?
Many fans on the East Coast have taken to the AHL, the Triple-A of the NHL. Some of us here on the West Coast have enjoyed the ECHL stylings of the Ontario Reign, the Double-A of the NHL. There's the growing popularity of NCAA hockey, and even ESPN has broadcast Kontinental Hockey League games from Russia and Eastern Europe.
Then there are some of us who are watching the NBA.
I should have seen this coming when Donald Fehr became executive director of the NHL Players' Association. He was the MLB Player's Association executive director when they had that lockout of 1994-95.
But I was stupid. No way the NHL would go down that road, I thought. Revenues are at an all-time high, and the popularity of the league was perhaps at its zenith.
So here we are with me spending a lot of time writing about the NBA and college football and the hardcore fans withering away like an untended rose.
The fact both the NHL and NHLPA agreed to non-binding mediation changes nothing. The next time you see hockey written about here from me is when both sides get their heads out of their asses and get the game on the ice.
This is just fucking ridiculous.
Almost as ridiculous was the Lakers losing at home against the Indiana Pacers 79-77. The offense from both teams looked about as fluid as the bayous I aim to tour in February.
Kobe Bryant was on his death bed this afternoon with the flu, yet he had the best game of anyone on the floor tonight with 40 points and 10 rebounds. He even almost bailed out the team in the final minute of the game hitting a cold-blooded three to tie the game at 77-77 after Dwight Howard and Ron Artest missed four consecutive free throws. In fact the charity stripe was not so charitable with the Lakers making 23 of 43 attempts.
George Hill had the ball on the final possession, waited until five seconds remained on the clock and slashed through the Lakers sieve defense to get the tear drop over Dwight Howard and onto the rim until it bounced through the net with 0:00.01 left on the clock.
But that's okay. Johnny Football talked today.
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