The Lockout Is Destroying My Morale

Living in Toronto, the centre of the media universe for hockey, it is apparent the lockout is beginning to break me down. The new school year always signals training camp and pre season hockey which didn’t happen. Thanksgiving always entails one of the first Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts. That didn’t happen either.

Surviving this lockout is going to take a lot of patience that I no longer have. Sure lots of players stay in their hometowns during a lockout and workout with fellow NHLers. Some go over to Europe, play in the AHL – But what do towns like Sunrise, Florida get in terms of their NHL fix and where are their players?

After siphoning through the whole Florida Panther’s roster, out of the twenty players listed, only three players have signed to play in Europe.

Sean Bergenheim is playing for HIFK in Helsinki, Finland which is fitting since it’s his hometown. Mike Santorelli signed with Tingsyrd of the Sweden Allsvenskan league.  Alder Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany’s premier league claimed Marcel Goc. Tomas Kopecky stated he received offers to play in Europe, but declined to spend time with his family.

With the housekeeping out of the way, this site is pretty awesome for keeping tabs on signings, and the performance of the players as well as other Panther’s whereabouts.

With players such as Zdeno Chara, and Henrik Zetterberg signing contracts to play in Europe in October, the hope for an end to this lockout starts to diminish. When I am starting to wear a coat during the day, there’s no hockey, and it’s Thanksgiving Monday, I’m a little worried about the state of the NHL.

The first indication of a lengthy lockout was the talk that there was GOING to be a lockout in August. Everyone knew it was going to happen and there were no signs of positive negotiating before, or even after the deadline. The players seemed to be a solid unit showing up to all the meetings standing behind Donald Fehr. Once the lockout came into effect, the first players to depart were Joe Thornton and Rick Nash.

At this point it was like an Andy Bernard bail on The Office. He planned an extravagant way to Parkour to the other side of the yard and it just didn’t happen. The NHLPA planned their negotiations, and so did the NHL. Nothing worked out, and it legitimately ended in a huge bail by the rest of the players. For your entertainment, and all you visual learners:

All the players dispersing sends a message not only to the owners, but definitely to Bettman as well. Making a point appears to be the overall theme of this lockout. The players want to be appreciated by the league not only for how they drive the company, but with the share they hold. If they didn’t get what they wanted, and were being locked out, they would find a way to play hockey and get paid without the NHL. And it’s exactly what they did. The NHL has said many times they think the players are not trying hard enough and are not “negotiating” at all. Maybe there’s a reason for this.

It’s no secret the players are not big fans of Gary Bettman. For a commissioner to still have his job through a third career lockout, it’s impressive the players haven’t forced him out. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to do right now. It has been speculated the players have been told this lockout will be long. They have been swayed to sign with other teams and this shows a huge change compared to pervious lockouts. The players are taking matters into their own hands and making this as painful for the NHL as they can.

The players are trying to make Bettman squirm. Big names signing on to play in Europe weeks into a lockout makes quite a statement. The end is not near.

How do you keep running a league when there are major stars including Wayne Gretzky that have publicly criticized your knowledge, and your ability to run a league you know nothing about?

This man has clearly learned to talk over the boos and hisses.

It’s not easy to wait for news of  negotiations and hear they only met for 30 minutes, or took a two hour lunch only to resume for less than an hour. Both sides haven’t been trying hard enough. I’m neither on the players’ or owners’ side. Like all fans, I just want to see some NHL hockey. The bickering in the media between both sides is quite frustrating, and very juvenile. If the NHLPA feels the terms they want are serious enough that they can’t live without them, put them on the table and make it work for both sides.

Hearing Bettman, Daley, and Fehr publicly bash one another is tiring and so unnecessary.

For Bettman, this might be his way of getting the NHL at the top of sports news: create drama where a professional league locked out and both sides is still miles away from a decision. The press that follows both sides to the meetings and clings to their every word is most likely appealing to Bettman. A cat fight might be the thing Bettman is liking the most about this lockout. We all know how much men like a good cat fight, a la Kramer on Seinfeld.

Whatever the movement of the players, the state of the players union, or the terms the owners want to get for themselves, it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I don’t care to see the bickering and the bashing in the media. Get the NHL back up and running, in the mean time I’ll watch the NFL and October baseball. I’ve got other things to do besides listening to grown men have a cat fight. Am I right? But please, get the NHL back, I’m crumbling in Toronto.

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