On Sept. 15, the National Hockey League NHL officially locked out its players for the second time in recent history, and now, nearly two months later, it seems that the end is nowhere in sight. Most recently, the NHL proposed a deal that would allow the league to have a full 82-game regular season, and a 50-50 split in hockey-related revenue. The NHL Players Association quickly rejected this proposal and offered three more of its own, each agreeing with the 50-50 split but also asking for owners to honor the long-term contracts that have already been signed. All three of these deals were quickly rejected by the NHL owners and now, it seems, they are back at square one.
With no headway made since these proposals were rejected, the NHL has now cancelled its season through November, effectively eliminating over a quarter of the hockey season. Even worse are the rumors now surfacing that later this week, the NHL’s Winter Classic will be canceled. The Winter Classic is an annual outdoor game played between two teams on Jan. 1, and it is one of the most anticipated games of every season. This year was going to be even more interesting as two of the league’s most storied teams, the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, were set to play at The University of Michigan’s Big House, a venue that was sure to bring in over 100,000 people and include alumni, junior and college hockey games as well.
For a league that has already had trouble regaining popularity after its most recent lockout, it seems that both sides should be making more of an effort to agree on a deal. After all of this cancelling is said and done, the people who are really losing out are us, the fans.
As an avid hockey fan, I am extremely disappointed by the way this lockout has progressed and by the seeming lack of effort put forth by both sides in the negotiations. What’s even worse is that being a hockey fan in Minnesota is extremely exciting right now. The Wild spent the summer signing two of the biggest free agents in Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and with a flock of young, talented players coming up from the minors like Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle and Matt Dumba, the Wild are finally looking to be the playoff-ready team that their fans have been waiting for. Even if the Wild aren’t your favorite team they aren’t mine, going to watch a young, exciting team at the always-packed Xcel Energy Center is something to look forward to.
However, all is not lost. There is still hockey around for those who, like me, miss watching their favorite sport. NCAA hockey is extremely competitive and fun to watch, and if you are seeking high-level hockey games look no further than this year’s University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Lead by standout forwards Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, the Gophers are currently ranked second in the nation and are poised to make a run at the WCHA championship in their final season before transitioning to the new Big 10 hockey conference.
If you’re looking for hockey closer to the Hill, St. Olaf houses three hockey teams. The men’s and women’s varsity hockey teams started their seasons strong this past weekend, and both are looking to be fierce competitors for the MIAC Championship this year. At a slightly lower level is the men’s club hockey team, which has games scattered throughout the year. So, if you need your hockey fix, break out your black and gold jersey and head over to the Pepsi Center to support your Oles, because this lockout isn’t ending anytime soon.