The NHL had just gotten a small amount of popularity back, and now they’re poised to wash it all down the drain.
The league has announced that they have canceled the Winter Classic, also known as the only game a non-hockey fan watches every year that isn’t a Stanley Cup Finals game.
Personally, I’m the kind of guy that won’t seek out hockey, but if it’s thrown in front of me, I’ll enjoy it. When a Capitals or Penguins highlight is shown on “Sportscenter,” I’ll watch just for the hope of seeing an Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby highlight. When I find out the Brookings Blizzard or the SDSU club hockey team is in town and I don’t have plans, I’ll head out for a game. But I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a dedicated fan of a hockey team.
And apparently the NHL is trying to keep it that way.
For the record, I have no idea what the issues are with this lockout. I don’t know whose side I’m on. And I will probably do no such research because, as I mentioned above, I’m not exactly a fan. But non-dedicated schmucks like me shouldn’t be the focus of the owner’s thought processes. What about what they’re doing to their dedicated fans?
This just happened seven years ago. In 2004, the NHL cancelled an entire season. I’ll say that again, the NHL cancelled an entire season. Some of the league’s best players just jumped ship and decided to play overseas. And why wouldn’t they, I think, when having to choose between a guaranteed paycheck and the possibility of a paycheck at some point in the future … hopefully?
Now, they’re putting the players, the organizations and the fans through the gauntlet again. In the past three years, three major professional sports have gone through a lockout that has cost all of them game time, be it exhibition or regular season. Now, we’re forced to watch more old men in suits talk about vanishing profit spreads in favor of watching some of the world’s best hockey players compete against each other for one of the most infamous trophies in all of sports.
And due to the fact that history will probably repeat itself and we’ll miss another NHL season due to this tomfoolery, hockey fans can probably get by with NCAA games. But what’s worse is that the MLB can potentially take its turn when its agreement expires Dec. 1, 2016.
It’s probably a good thing the NFL and NBA lockouts were so dreadfully unbearable, because those were sports that actually have a solid and dedicated following in the U.S.
We’ll miss the “Sportscenter” reviews of crazy athleticism, but it’s hardly worth going a year without football and/or basketball. The NHL’s lockout will probably cause a fury of unpleasantness in Canada, but they’ll manage.
Lesson: Appreciate the sports we have while labor peace is happening. And baseball fans, you should probably brace yourselves, because 2016 will be here before you know it.