As more and more NHL players head to greener pastures in Europe the prospects of a long NHL lockout is becoming more and more real. Despite the absurdity of putting another season in jeopardy it appears that there is no hurry on either side to end this stale mate.
How much longer will this go on? There is growing sentiment that we are looking at a lost year and now NHLPA head Donald Fehr is saying that they may want to re-look at the salary cap.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie is even beginning to speculate about next season.
Biggest fear, and maybe this why it won’t last all season, is if it goes whole season, prospects of 2nd season being affected are high IMO.
Could these billionaires and millionaires really rob us of two NHL seasons?
At what point do we give up? As fans, we really have no voice in this problem. Because of that we are becoming increasingly fed up with the NHL and the NHLPA but nobody seems to care.
The longer this lockout goes, the more angry fans are going to become. It’s not hockey the fans are mad at, it’s the NHL. It’s the business. The sport is still beloved. When will the breaking point come for the NHL? One season? Two?
It is time for a new hockey league.
That’s right. We need a new rival, major league professional hockey league and we need it now more than ever. The NHL has no real hockey competition and therefore can really do what it wants. Yes ESPN is now airing KHL games but they play in the middle of the day and feature teams that nobody in North America has any allegiance or devotion to.
Would you rather root for Moskva Dynamo or the Vancouver Canucks?
We need to start over.
Now, before we get too far down the path we need to acknowledge that saying we need a new pro-league is a lot easier than actually getting one started. To start one you will need money. Lots of money.
How far fetched is this?
Currently it appears that this lock out is being driven by the owners of a few of the richer and more powerful teams. This is your Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins types of franchises and they want no piece of increased revenue sharing which the players tried to propose. It feels that these hard-liners want to destroy the players union.
If the more hardline owners have hijacked these proceedings, as some have opined, how long is it before there is rebellion?
If the lockout carries into a second season how long before the moderates will have seen enough? Enough of the hardliners? Enough of Gary Bettman?
Is it unthinkable that they won’t seek to split from the league? How many teams would it take? Six? Seven? Eight?
If six to eight franchises split and recurited owners and cities in a half a dozen or so markets we could be on to something.
Players say they want to play so let’s hold them to their word. Do you think Evander Kane would rather play in the KHL over the Jets in this new league? It seems that a new league that included existing franchises would be a pretty easy sell to players who are disrupting their families to play in Europe now just to keep the money rolling in.
It’s time to leave the NHL behind.
The hockey world has seen a rival league before. The World Hockey Association began in 1972 and only lasted seven seasons before crumbling. Why would it work this time? In 1972 there were fewer NHL teams and the WHA formed in cities that did not have hockey. They then tried to compete with the NHL and were crushed.
Our new dream league has no NHL to compete with right now. If you had a mix of established franchises with cities that want hockey you could either beat the NHL or force the hard-line owners into joining, on our terms.
It could also be a way to expand the sport into markets that want it.
Seattle wants a team? Done. Quebec City? Welcome back Nordiques. Las Vegas? Sure. Toronto? Why not.
This new league could be our league. It would feature no Gary Bettman, although you could have between period contests where fans attempt to shoot pucks into a giant Bettman clown face for big prizes…but we digress.
We could build it any way we want to, we can actually attempt to make it fan friendly.
The point here is that the NHL is dysfunctional and Bettman and the current system is the biggest reason for that dysfunction. No sport has lost as many games to labor disputes as the NHL has. We all swallowed the medicine in 2004 in the hopes that we would never have to go through that again. Yet here we are.
It’s not working and nobody seems interested in changing how it operates.
So let’s get a new league going. Let’s get hockey back into arenas and leave the NHL behind. Let’s go out and buy Nordiques sweaters, get a Las Vegas Snake Eyes hat, let’s reclaim the sport we love.
Andrew writes about the WHL and NHL Draft Prospects. He also covers the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN Seattle and spent two years with Sportsnet. Follow him on Twitter @andyeide.