NHL: Hockey Lives On
What Was Once Lost Is Now Found
Our prayers have been answered by the hockey gods. The National Hockey League has secured a season this year. The dreaded NHL lockout is over. The NHL, along with commissioner Gary Bettman signed a new collective bargaining agreement with the National Hockey League Players Association. Although many sacrifices were made by team owners and players, along with the image of the NHL becoming potentially tarnished, the puck was able to drop last weekend. As time passed with no end in sight, the excitement of a new hockey season, and the hope of a CBA agreement were quickly diminishing. After months of negotiating, both sides of the spectrum were able to muster up an agreement.
The new ten-year agreement came just in time. Bettman announced earlier that if games were not started by Jan. 19, the 2012-13 season would be doomed. Well, coincidentally, the season was able to commence on that very same day. Sadly, before the agreement, commissioner Bettman had already made public that this year’s all-star game, along with possibly the most important game of regular season, the Winter Classic, would be canceled. Along with those cancelations, the amount of games played per team has been cut from the accustomed 82 games to a quaint, 48-game season.
At least hockey fans can now look forward to more than just the survival of the NHL. Now we can all look forward to everyone’s favorite teams battling it out to the finish in a shortened season. We can look forward to watching each team’s new player acquisitions on the ice, such as the New York Ranger’s right-winger Rick Nash, or Washington Capital’s center Mike Ribeiro. Also the Los Angeles Kings will attempt to defend their Stanley Cup title.
The collective bargaining agreement includes many new aspects. Some of the conditions include revenue sharing and contract lengths. Unlike the previous CBA agreement, which gave the players 57 percent of all hockey related revenues and 43 percent to the owners, both sides now share 50 percent of the revenues. The agreement also dealt with the issue of long-term contracts given to players. Lengthy contracts were becoming common place for high-valued free agents. In the off-season, top free-agents, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, each signed 13-year, $98 million contracts to play for the Minnesota Wild. There is now a seven-year limit for player contracts, and eight years for teams who are re-signing their players.
Team schedules will be quite different this season. Teams that are part of the Eastern Conference will not be competing against teams from the Western Conference in the regular season. This will decrease the amount of traveling for teams who will be playing games on a more frequent basis due to the shortened season. The Stanley Cup Finals will be the only time teams from opposing conferences will play against each other. It should make for an exciting series.
The Winter Classic was scheduled for New Years Day, in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs were to compete outdoors in Michigan Stadium. The NHL All-Star Game was to be played at Nationwide arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 2014 Winter Olympics will delay the NHL and the city of Columbus from holding an all-star game until 2015.
By: Joshua Whiting