NHL Lockout

By David Finder

So I know a majority of Georgians feel the same way about the news of the NHL lockout; you’re confused, saddened and disheartened with the lockout of our favorite hockey players. With the NHLPA and NHL owners failing to reach the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement and the expiration of the old CBA on September 16, 2012 at 11:59 PM, we find ourselves in the same place we were seven years ago, without the NHL. Although the season doesn’t start until October, training camp, which was supposed to start this week, is officially closed, and the future looks grim for a full NHL season. Its truly been a great seven years of lockout-free hockey, with a different team winning the Stanley Cup each year, the birth of the Winter Classic and opening games overseas, and the new style of play that emerged from rule changes. But, as optimists, we should still hope for an agreement soon to save the season. The NHL is, as of now, gone, but that doesn’t mean hockey is.

Evgeni Malkin has already signed to play in the KHL in his native country Russia, just days after the announcement of the NHL lockout.

The KHL has already signed a few players with the lockout, notably Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar. The Russian league has even set rules on the recruitment of NHL players. Teams are limited to three players, and they have to abide by a salary cap of 65% of the player’s total NHL contract (not sure about the conversion rates from Russian Rubles to US Dollars). Also, the players are not bound to the KHL teams when the lockout is resolved. Other players are sure to follow suit, and although the KHL will probably hoard the talent pool of the NHL, other European leagues will be filled with locked-out NHL players.

Not all is completely lost, however, as the American Hockey League’s season is still on. The AHL is the minor league of the NHL, and young stars such as Jeffrey Skinner of Carolina and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton are already set to play with their NHL team’s minor league affiliate. The ECHL is still on, which is the next league down from the AHL, and the Gwinnett Gladiators expect all of Athens to make the trip to Gwinnett County to enjoy the game. NBC Sports and the NHL Network are planning on airing games on their stations, so at least there’s some hockey to be watched.

The NHL lockout is truly heartbreaking to the great fans of the NHL. Nobody in power even seems to be attempting to negotiate, and even with the statement by the NHL this morning expressing their utmost concern with the deal, the season is at this point in jeopardy. So unless you have satellite TV to watch the European leagues or care to watch minor league hockey, all there really is to do is pray that the owners and players can come to terms sooner rather than later. Go Hershey Bears!

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