On the surface, the offer the NHL made to the player’s association last week seemed fair enough. Digging a little deeper, the players would not only be giving up money, but also their contract length would be limited and players entering the league would have to be 28 years old or serve eight years in the league before getting a shot to be a free agent. Not surprisingly, the players have decided not to sign the offer. As a result, the NHL will pull the offer.
The league says the reason for pulling the offer is because it was contingent on an 82-game season. Now that more time has passed, the likelihood of squeezing all those games in is not good. The executive of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr, compared the situation to what happened with the NBA last year. He said both leagues made offers that the players’ associations decided would be better off not signing. The NBA and its players ended up making a deal and played 66 games, 16 games fewer than a full season.
The premier game for the NHL has been the ‘Winter Classic.’ The outdoor game has not only been an enjoyable event in itself, but the addition of HBO’s ‘24/7’ has allowed fans to see what happens behind the scenes leading up to the game. Time is of the essence and now the game is in jeopardy. This year’s game would have pitted two Original 6 teams against each other and would have been the highest attended game in NHL history.
Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, affectionately called the ‘Big House,’ hosted a game between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University; there were well over 100,000 tickets sold to the event. A game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs would have done the same and fans would be much more reluctant to skip it – the attendance at the game between the Wolverines and Spartans didn’t seem to reflect the amount of tickets sold.
The frustrating thing now is that both sides are saying, “it takes two to negotiate” and yet both appear reluctant to do so. As time continues to drag on, more players have decided to play overseas – like Blackhawks’ forward Patrick Kane. The players are still not hurting financially because of the precautionary measures. They set up knowing that a lockout was looming. The owners have the leverage, but the players are showing no signs of panic. The stalemate continues between the league and the players while fans are left wondering whether the season will be played at all.
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