The NHL is locked out…again. After strikes in 1994 and 2004, the league is once again in a standoff that threatens to shorten or completely eliminate the regular season. Much to the owners’ chagrin, the players currently receive 57 percent of revenue; both sides are negotiating how to best divide the NHL’s $3.3 billion revenue.
As the NHL’s no longer an option, some players have already signed with teams in Europe, where the sport is more popular. Boston Bruin Tyler Seguin, for example, signed with Biel in the Swiss league, joining New York Ranger Rick Nash, Ottawa Senator Jason Spezza and San Jose Shark Joe Thorton. Other players, like Washington Capital Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburg Penguin Evgeni Malkin, have joined the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia; Swedish and Czech leagues are popular options as well. Brooks Laich, a Washington fan-favorite, recently departed for Switzerland also.
Though players have signed contracts with their new teams allowing them to return to their old teams should the lockout end, many are prepared to stay if the owners win the proposed 25 percent pay cut. Ovechkin, for example, threatened to do so in recent interview.
Coaches are similarly flocking to other leagues, including the Amateur Hockey League (AHL). The Capitals’ coaching staff will be heading to Hershey, PA to help its developmental team, the Hershey Bears.
The lockout isn’t only hurting the players and fans; staff are suffering as well. The Florida Panthers announced countless layoffs Sept. 18, including that of the team mascot. The Senators also fired over 10 employees Sept. 18.
The two sides have resumed talks; let’s hope they reach an agreement, because fans might not come back should another season get canceled.
“Hockey is one of the most prosperous sports; it probably has more fans than basketball,” said junior Kourosh Ashtary-Yazdi, an avid Capitals fan. “It will be detrimental to the league if they have no season at all because they will lose a lot of support.”
The recent combination of layoffs and players defecting from the NHL is just the ice-ing on the cake of an all-around bad situation.