NHL Rumors: League Officially Goes Dark, But For How Long?

By Steve Palumbo

The clock struck midnight for the NHL early Sunday morning as the league locked out its players following the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. This marks the fourth time the league has had a work stoppage since 1992.

Team owners unanimously voted to support a lockout, and as of now no new negotiations have been scheduled and NHL arena’s from Toronto to Los Angeles will remain dark until further notice.

In 1992, NHL players went on strike causing 30 games to be postponed. The 1994-95 lockout ended after 103 days and the subsequent cancellation of 468 games. The NHL’s most recent lockout ended after 301 painfully long days. Exactly how long the current work stoppage will last remains unknown, but hopefully it comes no where near the fiasco of 04-05 that cost the league its first Stanley Cup champion since 1919.

So what’s at stake? How about how to split $3.3 billion in revenues. The owners want an even bigger piece of that pie, while the NHLPA believes the revenue-sharing formula is not without flaw and that the players should not be asked to give up any more of the money they fought so hard for in 2004.

The entire 2004-05 season was lost over virtually the same issue. The lockout ended when the players finally agreed to accepted a salary cap and a rollback of their existing contracts.  In return the players would receive 57 percent of any hockey-related revenues.

Fast forward to today – the league is booming and the owners want a “do-over.”

The league is now offering the players somewhere between 43 and 46 percent of hockey-related revenues. The players are hoping to bring home  at least the $1.8 billion in guaranteed salaries that were dished out in 2011-12.

As of now, no games have been lost and the NHL is only expected to cancel preseason games through September – leaving the door open for optimism from fans.

In 2004, once the lockout began, both sides didn’t meet again until December. Its seems like a long shot that the two sides would wait that long to meet again. The hope is for the NHL and NHLPA to keep in contact and reconvene as soon as possible – as long as that happens there is still a chance this lockout could be over before we know it.

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