If you’re a hockey fan the memories of the 2004 NHL lockout are still fresh in your mind. We spent an entire winter huddled in front of our TV with nothing to watch but the tail end of the Canadian Football League season and basketball. Since both those sports had been declared a safe and legal sedative by Health Canada, it was a rough year to be a sports fan.
Now, just eight short years later, the league looks to be headed for yet another lockout. The last deal was pretty damn good for the owners and the NHL has accumulated record profits since it was signed, so they figure there is an opportunity for another cash grab. The players, meanwhile, are desperate to hold on to the system already in place that has made a lot of very young men impossibly rich.
Hockey is a business, as we’re so often reminded, and both the owners and the players needs to get paid.
Every time I hear “hockey’s a business” I feel like a little piece of the sport dies. Hockey isn’t really a business, it’s a great game someone built a business around. Hockey is going to the arena at 11pm on a weeknight to play a beer league game with your buddies. Hockey is lacing up your 6-year-old’s skates for his first minor league game. Hockey is setting up two skateboards as goal post and playing in your driveway.
What hockey is not is a bunch of millionaires squabbling over an already enormous amount of money while the fans who pay all their salaries sit and wait for the day when the spoiled babies step back onto the ice.