Where were you when the NHL locked out the last time? Its actually happened twice – and fans suffered both times. The New Jersey Devils were still able to get their name etched on the Stanley Cup after the National Hockey League was able to save a partial season.
The 2004-2005 Stanley Cup was never awarded – and in a weird twist of events a group called the “Wednesday Nighters” brought the case to a Canadian court thinking the NHL overstepped their bounds by withholding the cup in 2005. With the NHL the de facto owners of the Stanley Cup – they will try to block any and all claims for the trophy if their seasons don’t get played again.
Stanley Cup Trustee Brian O’Neil has said that all claims would be contested. The only way the Stanley Cup will go to a non NHL team is if the league states it does not want the trophy anymore or the league folds.
While the NHLPA has not countered the NHL with their offer yet – we can expect to see a counter offer anytime know. Apparently the NHLPA is still waiting for some financial figures from the league before they make their pitch.
Things the players are bringing up are ice conditions and training camp. Might NHL veterans want a shorter and less demanding training camp like their NFL counterparts have gotten? For players who take their conditioning seriously – a shorter training camp might and fewer exhibition games could be in order – and those that can’t hang won’t make it to opening night rosters.
Seriously though, the Buffalo Sabres play seven exhibition games between September 24th and October 6th – almost a game every other night. If a guy is a lock to make the opening day roster – he’s not going to be playing many of these meaningless games – but do coaches really need this many contests to figure out how they are going to play 82 regular season games?
With the NHLPA awaiting financial data from the league, my brain goes back to the NFL lockout, when the NFL didn’t reveal all the information the NFLPA requested. Could the same thing happen in the NHL? The closer we get to August without a counter proposal the odds of a lockout increase. While both sides are still talking – going over things like training camp issues, ice quality, and stale benefits could just be cover of the real issues of a salary roll back and decreased revenue for players.
The NHL holds an death card in these negotiations as well – the Phoenix Coyotes. As owners of the struggling (off ice) organization – the NHL could place padlocks on the Jobing.com Arena and not let the team play again until an investor group surfaces that will be able to fully seal a deal to get the team on an owners budget and not the leagues. For all sides, losing a team when your talking about revenue requirements is a killer, because that is one less venue that players and owners could potentially pull revenue from. (It could also be one less team that more financially sound teams have to make payments too.) The NHLPA has to fear this card being played by the NHL – because for them its the loss of 23 more union jobs – which is their job to protect. The Greg Jamison team is still seeking investors as they are short of the amount needed to keep the desert dogs playing in the desert next season. With the deadline passed for Jamison to have Doan locked up long term in Phoenix to finish his career where it pseudo-started for the sought after free agent – Doan could be looking harder at the any number of suitors that have inquired about his services.
The NHLPA may want to play hardball with the NHL to protect the interests of their players – but stepping to far into the deep end with negotiations and the NHL could put 23 NHL players out of work for at a minimum one season. The NHL could make too hard of an approach with the NHLPA because they hold this card. No one wants to see another season padlocked and have the most historic trophy in the world marked with “2004-2005 Season Not Played” and “2012-2013 Season Not Played”.