Yesterday was quite depressing for me and NHL fans everywhere. Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, officially cancelled the entirety of the 2004-2005 season. If they could have reached an agreement with the NHLPA a little sooner, there would have been a 20-game schedule. The players actually caved and agreed to a cap, but negotiations collapsed around how much it should be.
But the last few days of the 04-05 non-season are perhaps a subject for a node of their own. This daylog is about me and my emotions, emotions that I reasonably assume are shared by hockey fans the world over. Even though I knew it was coming it was still depressing as hell. When the players caved, though, it reignited a small flame of hope that something could be salvaged of the season. The flurry of last-ditch efforts by both sides in the final 24 hours excited me a little. But it was not to be.
I've already published my little rant to the NHLPA here and I am through with blaming and cussing out blamees; it doesn't matter now. They have caved and if they want to continue to negotiate with the league they're going to have to cave even more because the league is no longer interested in last-ditch efforts, obviously. They players are now going to either agree to the league's demands or be replaced. It's that simple. I actually think that maybe the league could have waited another day or two; the players were already caving, maybe with just a tad bit more time they would have come to an agreement.
Some friends I've talked to have said a 20-some-odd game season would've been pointless. But in the press conference yesterday, Bettman said something interesting when answering one of the questions. He said that two versions of the conference had been planned. The other was one where he happily announced an agreement had been struck and there would be a very short season. He said that the short season would have been a way to test out, to experiment with new rules, etc. and had planned on hashing those out. True, as one of my friends pointed out, hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup over your head after making it through playoffs that were only based on a twenty game season seems ridiculous, but to use the short season to experiment with new rules and such seemed fascinating, at least to me. There are a lot of things that can be done with the game to make it better, like different icing rules, thinner goalie pads, etc., to stimulate more offense.
But instead, there's a huge asterisk in the record books now, in the history of the NHL; no stats for 2004-2005, except for one: NHL becomes the first major North American sports league to cancel an entire season because of a labor dispute. Now everybody who is not a hockey fan is laughing; I didn't watch the talk shows last night but I'll bet Leno or Letterman had a few jokes to crack about it. Oh, those silly hockey players, their season's been cancelled, ha ha ha. Hey, I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out! Zing! Hey, who cares? It's just hockey, heh heh. It's not like it's football or something! Well I would like to tell them, and you if perhaps you have this attitude, that they/you have no idea as to how many people this is hurting, and I'm not even talking just about fans. Joke all you want about it, but hockey is a multi-billion dollar industry. A lot of people were hurt financially by there not being NHL hockey this year. From working on the Game Night Revue I was making an extra three thousand dollars a year; that loss of revenue has me barely paying my bills right now. All the vendors at the hockey rinks, all the businesses that depend on hockey crowds like restaurants and bars and so forth to get them through the long cold winter where there's no baseball (in cities with no basketball, mainly) are hurting badly. These are all the people and things that are easy to forget. When most people think of losses they only think of the owners. Considering that most owners were losing millions of dollars every year anyway, they didn't fare any worse this year with no hockey than they did last year with it.
So, for all of you who don't give a rat's ass about hockey, go ahead, downvote me. I'm sure you will. But at least think about what I said in the previous paragraph. No NHL this season was not a laughing matter for a lot of people, a lot of people just like you, people who aren't wealthy, just trying to make it, just trying to pay their bills. A lot of them probably aren't even hockey fans, or maybe just casual ones, but still depended on the sport for their financial well being. Take any sport you are a fan of and imagine them not playing an entire season. That's how we feel. And for those of you who aren't sports fans at all in any capacity, I hope you at least can appreciate what I've said about money, as I am sure you have bills to pay like most people in this world.
Things are more fucked up than I thought. I thought there was plenty of time between now and next September to work out a deal to save next season, but I just read an article that made me realize something: if things aren't resolved by this June, they can't even have a draft! Or make any deals for that matter, trades or signings. Damn.