cancels season after agreement cannot be made
There will be no hockey games this season for the National Hockey League (NHL) fans to watch. The players union and the NHL could not come to terms on a new contract and the deadline has now passed. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday afternoon that the remainder of the 28 game schedule would not be played and the lockout would continue until an agreement could be made. “This is a sad, regrettable day that all of us wish could have been avoided,” Bettman said of the cancellation. This will be the first time since 1919 that the NHL did not play a full season and crown a Stanley Cup champion. That year was cut short because of a flu epidemic that was going around. The NHL will be making history with this decision as well. No other sport has cancelled a full season since their inception. Both sides were unable to come to an agreement on what the terms of the new contract should be even after numerous attempts with offers and counter-offers. Without a signed deal there will be no June draft and no season next year either.
The NHL may be losing some of its veteran players as well. Mario Lemieux (39), Mark Messier (44), Steve Yzerman (39), Brett Hull (40), Ron Francis (41), Dave Andreychuk (41) and Chris Chelios (43) may all be retiring from the sport and not even have the chance to play those farewell games. Many players have already flown overseas to play with the International Leagues just so they can play the game. “The scary part now for hockey is will the fans come back? We’re not baseball, we’re not the national pastime,” Nashville forward Jim McKenzie was quoted as saying.
Both the teams and the league were busy trading offers back and forth to each other Tuesday night in a last ditch attempt at salvaging the season, but neither side would fully accept the others terms. They players proposed a $49 million salary cap; the owners returned with $42.5 million. The entire future of the NHL could be destroyed because of a $6.5 million discrepancy.
Where do the hockey fans have to turn now? Many have turned their attention to the minor leagues where players play each game like it is the Stanley Cup and there are no disputes over salary caps. There, each player makes an average of $300-$600 a week and they still show up to enjoy a game of hockey. The NHL may have buried itself with its decision this week but not all hope is lost. Leagues like the American Hockey League (AHL), International Hockey League (IHL), East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) offer new players with better attitudes and less greed. Say goodbye to the National Hockey League and welcome the new players into your hearts. Now let’s have this final moment of silence for the NHL. It’s been a long and entertaining journey; so sad to see you go.