With last week’s press conference by National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman, the NHL became the first professional sports league in history to cancel an entire season. Man, what a mess this has created for the league.
A majority of professional sports fans could probably care less about the disappearance of the NHL this year, but many hockey fans, especially in Canada, do care. The NHL looked very stupid for holding a press conference Feb. 19 to try and “un-cancel” the season, then the two sides between the owners and players didn’t make any progress and the season remained canceled.
This lockout has made commissioner Bettman and the NHL player’s union head Bob Goodenow look bad. A hockey fan who passed away recently in Ottawa, Canada, requested in his obituary to say that Bettman and Goodenow were a bunch of “skunks” for what they have done to the NHL this year.
Another ridiculous part of this deal was that the player’s union, which vowed to never accept a salary cap, came out a couple of days before the press conference and said that they would accept a salary cap. The final figures before the season was canceled showed that the NHL owners wanted the salary cap to be around $42 million and the player’s union wanted the cap to be around $49 million. It’s sad that these two groups couldn’t negotiate a deal when they’ve come this close in the collective bargaining process.
Hockey has never really been a sport to watch on TV; it has always been a sport to see live at an arena. ESPN recently reported that the programming airing on ESPN 2 to replace the NHL games were getting ratings around 0.4 percent, which is a horrible rating. However, the NHL games on ESPN 2 were getting ratings of half that number.
The NBC network is a big loser as a result of the NHL season cancellation. Last year NBC signed a contract with the league to have NHL games carried on their network. Now they lose the millions of dollars they were slated to make this season, and who knows what will happen for next year’s hockey season.
Some have said that the NHL made a mistake by expanding into non-traditional hockey cities such as Miami, Nashville, Atlanta and Columbus. The people working for the Columbus Blue Jackets would definitely disagree with this statement because ESPN recently published an article stating that a Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena was the number-one stadium experience in all of sports.
The NHL season was canceled five months after the lockout began. It is still unclear when – and if – games will resume next season.