Hockey is one of the most skillful, fast paced games on Earth. It’s quite a spectacle to see live, but these days professional hockey in the NHL is more like a dead beat parent, never around and it always disappoints. The NHL lockout nears its fourth month, but here are four reasons why the hockey might be better off without the NHL anyway.
1. Professional hockey can survive without the NHL.
Most teams in the NHL reside in the United States yet there were no Americans among the top 10 scorers in the NHL. Most of the talent in the NHL is grown and developed in foreign countries, and plenty of other professional hockey leagues around the globe. Hockey would grow internationally if the league’s best talent were spread to its home countries. It wouldn’t be a terrible idea for hockey to take a page out of soccer’s playbook and set up a champion’s league.
2. The league may be on its way to ending anyway.
The NHL Players Association has threatened to file a Disclaimer of Interest. The idea is that if the union were to decertify, they could file a lawsuit as a trade association against the league stating that they have not been negotiating in good faith. If the judge were to decide that the lockout is unlawful, he or she could end the lockout. In response, the NHL has filed a declaratory judgment complaint under the claim that the NHLPA has no plans to abandon its representation of the players and that the lockout is a legitimate means of collective bargaining. Aside from the obvious business rifts it would create between the owners and the players, the NHL could pursue a void of all contracts ending the NHL as we know it.
3. The NHL owners have abused their negotiating power.
The NHL has had three work stoppages under Commissioner Gary Bettman. Once in 1994-1995, which shortened the season from 84 to 48 games. Nine years later the entire 2004-2005 season was cancelled and once again an entire season is in jeopardy. If the players argue the owners have not been negotiating in good faith they have a point. When the NHL pitched its first legitimate offer to the players responded with three counter offers, which resulted in the owners walking out of the room.
4. The owners did this to themselves.
The last lockout was supposed to be the lockout to end all lockouts. For all intents and purposes, it was a major win for the NHL, who got the union to agree to a 24% pay cut and a salary cap. Fast-forward to 2010, the New Jersey Devils signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 17 year $102 million contract. The Devils were harshly penalized by the league, which fined them $3 million, making them forfeit a first round pick for “violating the spirit of the CBA.” They settled on a 15 year $100 dollar contract. Two years later the Minnesota Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to dual 13 year $98 million contracts conveniently right before asking them to cut their wages in CBA negotiations.