Each day brings mixed news regarding the possible NHL lockout as the NHL and NHLPA continue their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations. But buried behind the negotiations between the Owners and the Players is the “little guy” who could be greatly affected by a possible NHL Lockout. These are the people who are actually hurt the most. The lower level laid-off league employees and seasonal hires, arena employees, local businesses, hockey media, and of course, the minor league players who are going to be pushed out as eligible NHL players are sent down to play in the AHL. No TV revenues will be there to help this group survive a lockout. Lives are on hold. Families are waiting to hear if they will have jobs come October.
It doesn’t really matter if you favor one side over the other. Both the NHL and the NHLPA have their own agendas. Personally, I feel the players deserve some credit – it is after all why we watch hockey. I don’t watch it for the owners. I don’t care who the owners are unless they become a detriment to the game. I care about the management of a team and the product on the ice – and that is the hockey player and team. They are the reason fans pay their hard-earned money to sit in that arena every game. They deserve to be a full partner in this business equation.
But the little guy in this mixed up mess has no voice. No way to be heard. Their livelihoods are on the line. As for minor league hockey players, some very quickly signed with European teams realizing that their prospects were very limited this summer with a pending lockout. Other minor leaguers wait, patiently, as the clock ticks down to September 15th. Will their careers be shelved for a year? Or even part of a year? A year that could possibly be that optimum window of opportunity to play in the NHL? Will they be forced to put their hopes and dreams aside? There are no guarantees at this point. No sure thing. Just uncertainty.