Detroit gets first dibs on the 2014 (maybe?) Winter Classic.
Let the countdown begin. The Winter Classic is the big regular-season event. Everything seems much more accelerated and hostile compared to the last time, so don't be shocked if we start hearing drop-dead dates to even get a season in before the end of the month.
And "Season Not Played" is just about to become a 2-time Stanley Cup Champion.
This is the kind of stuff that happens when you have a commish that changes NHL bylaws so he only need eight owners on his side to turn down any NHLPA's proposals. I mean how else can he reject three offers from the players in ten minutes two weeks ago/ Also he has a gag order on Owners who speak out and can fine them over a million dollars and take away draft picks. This is Bettman, Snider and Jacobs' deal. The players and owners are set too meet again soon, but I'm not exactly hopefully. Amazing how many times this sport has shot itself in the foot with Bettman in charge.
If they are willing to give up the millions that come in off the Winter Classic then it pretty much means no season. This is so fucking stupid. Their league is only now starting to come back around thanks to these stupid lockouts the owners through like its a bi-annual Christmas party. If I am Sid, Malkin and the other big stars, you are probably making some good coin in the Western bloc not to have to come back. Sometimes, I do wish the fans would just jump Bettman during the Cup ceremony.
The Wee Baby Sheamus.Twitter: @realjoecarfley its a bit more toned down there. A bit.
Get college teams. Do a double-header. This is the only hockey game I care about, and The Lovely Mrs. Tracker and I are glued to the entire broadcast. NBC is losing so much on this lockout, and I suggest they hold the entire event sans the NHL game. Or have NHL players make up their own teams with no NHL involvement. Two captains, from the Stanley Cup Finals teams, pick a roster of volunteers. This becomes an unofficial All-Star game AND the Winter Classic.
"To be the man, you gotta beat demands." -- The Lovely Mrs. Tracker
It's hard to say at this point, but doubtful. In the seven years since the last lockout, league revenues have ballooned by around 50%, which is quite a large increase. Certainly no one can say that the last lockout hurt the league, except maybe people who miss the old penalty-free clutch and grab style that stifled stars and dropped scoring (I don't).
The ace in the NHL's pocket remains relocation. For the last twenty years the league philosophy has been to try to place teams in major US television markets to help earn a major TV deal. That's why the NHL has tried so stubbornly to keep teams in Atlanta, in Phoenix, in Florida, in Nashville, and so on. In some cases the league catches on and becomes successful on its own merits, as seen in Dallas and San Jose. In other cases, not quite so much. But that's where relocation comes in. The Atlanta franchise failed to the point where there was no local ownership willing to buy it and lose money, so it was bought and moved to Winnipeg, where despite becoming the smallest market in the league and playing in the smallest arena in the league the team was instantly profitable due to a rabid fanbase paying the league's third-highest ticket prices, subscribing to a $10 a month television channel to watch every game the team played and buying a ton of merchandise.
There remain other locations for teams to be moved to that will enjoy the same renaissance. We're already seeing the Islanders move down the island to Brooklyn in a few years, which will improve their revenues due to the modern arena even if it's going to be smaller than Winnipeg's. Quebec City, Hamilton and even Seattle wait in the wings as potential destinations for a relocated team that will do better in ticket sales than various failing American franchises. Kansas City has built a brand new arena and is actively courting the NHL. And then there's the holy grail for money-making, the lucky chance for one owner to eventually bring an actual NHL hockey franchise to Toronto for the first time since the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1967. Of course, that's a move (along with a potential Hamilton team) that will be fought tooth and nail by the current Maple Leafs ownership that loves their stranglehold on the Toronto market and that they can lose, lose and lose some more and still earn record profits.
So no, even if another season is lost, the league won't go anywhere. Growth might get slowed, and some of the current failing teams might be forced to relocate, but it just means the league will shift back to the north and focus on its gates and Canadian market rather than the pipe dream of an NFL-style massive TV contract. The NBC deal they have now gives them decent exposure but doesn't pay them a lot of money. When it was initially signed, it actually paid them no money, they gave away their product for free (and a share of advertising revenue) to help market the game. So it's not as though they have anything to lose on the television contract front except potential.
Now, the good news? For some reason, shortly after cancelling the Winter Classic, the NHL amended their last proposal to the players in a way that the players should find more pleasing. The season isn't dead yet, though it begs the question, why wouldn't the owners do that before cancelling their showcase game?
Today I salute Patrick Roy, his incredible career, and his decision to retire. Obviously he *really* wanted to, since he's retiring on the heels of the Avs choking away that series to Minnesota instead of trying to go out on a high note.