At the end of the 2003-04 hockey season, my fiancée and I were given tickets to a single-A minor league game. It was the first time that either of us had been to a hockey game, and we were both pretty hooked (more me, than her, probably). Alas, the very next season, 2004-05, was the infamous NHL lockout and player strike that resulted in the entire season being lost.
You would think the NHL and NHLPA would have learned their lesson from that debacle. But apparently not. As of September 26, the league has once again locked out the players due to a lack of a Collective Bargaining Agreement. The pre-season was completely cancelled, and as of October 19, the first few weeks of the regular season have also been cancelled through at least November 1 (the season was supposed to have started around October 12).
What’s more, the CBA that was negotiated after the 2004-05 season was a total wash, apparently expired in mid-September. Here’s my question - why the fuck wasn’t a new CBA already being negotiated during the summer in order to avoid the loss of the pre-season and (so far) the first four weeks of the regular season? Ok, maybe it was, but from the press releases on NHL.com, it almost appears as though they waited until the last possible minute to start talking about it.
Do the parties involved in this not realize that without the fans, there is no league? Cancelling games and risking losing yet another season is not exactly a great way to endear your selves to the people who buy the tickets to the games and all the swag and merchandise that generate revenue, now is it?
Player strikes and league lockouts in professional sports never make sense to me. According to Yahoo! Sports, the average NHL salary is $2.4 million per year. Figuring a season of 82 games (not counting the playoffs), that comes to just over $29k per game. According to Social Security Online, the the national average wage index in 2010 was just over $41.5k. In other words, these guys make more money in two games than the average person makes in a year, but yet they whine for more? WTF?
I know some will disagree with me on this and go into arguments about the pinnacles of their profession should be paid well, and I don’t completely disagree. But this business of millionaires complaining about needing more money to play a freakin’ game starts to get a bit ridiculous in my opinion. So, dear NHL and NHLPA - get your shit together and let’s drop the damn puck already!