In 1994/1995 the NHL and NHLPA avoided a season-long lockout and played 48 games. The lockout ended on January 11th, and the the regular season started January 20th and ended May 3rd. The Stanley Cup was awarded on June 23rd, which horribly late considering the Dallas Stars, 1999, and Carolina Hurricanes, 2006, hoisted it on June 19th.
The NHL won’t wait until mid-February to cancel the season, like they did in 2005, and since they are in love with announcing game cancellations on Fridays, you can circle January 11th as their day of reckoning. They will either have a new CBA in place by then or for the second time in eight years no team will hoist the Stanley Cup.
So both sides have 47 days to
pull their heads out of their asses negotiate a new CBA and avoid even more embarrassment.
The NHL might look dumb right now, but they aren’t completely stupid which is why they won’t cancel their season before Christmas. They know some fans will still buy some merchandise as Christmas gifts, so if they end up looking like the Grinch it won’t happen until January.
I still believe the two sides will reach an agreement pre-Christmas, because their most recent proposals aren’t that far apart, and likely because I’m an eternal optimist. Sadly, I sense the negotiations have become more about ego than money, and unless the owners put pressure on Gary Bettman or the players lean on Donald Fehr to make a deal happen, we’ll be stuck watching Gary and Donald play an ill-advised game of chicken.
The NHL and NHLPA have agreed to bring in a mediator according to Pierre Lebrun. This is a good move, but keep in mind they used a mediator in 2004/2005 and that didn’t end the lockout. This is a smart move, but far from a guarantee that the lockout will end.
I honestly think both camps are clueless to the damage they are doing to their game. While the players keep tweeting to fans, "We really want to play and we respect you," their actions don’t match those sentiments. The NHL’s blinders might be on even tighter, because they aren’t just alienating their fans, they are on the verge of seeing major sponsors walk away from their game.
Brian Cooper is the President of S & E Sponsorship Group. They represent many current NHL sponsors and Cooper shed some light on what some of the main sponsors think about the NHL brand.
"Sponsor like Kraft, Scotiabank, Canadian Tire and Sirius XM, of which we represent, they are not getting any positive association with the league," said Cooper. That isn’t a surprise considering there are websites built by fans that list current NHL sponsors and ask fans not to support them.
The interesting part is within the details of their sponsorship deals with the NHL. "If there is more than 25% of the regular season games cancelled you get a pro-rated rebate, however, if less than 25% of the games are cancelled you pay the full amount," Cooper informed me. Last year NBA sponsors had to pay the full amount of sponsorship, despite the NBA only playing a 66-game schedule.
Even if the lockout ends, many sponsors could be leery of attaching their brand to the NHL.
"The problem is even when the lockout ends; many sponsors won’t want to come back with a promotion that connects them to the NHL or the NHLPA. Fans are currently disgusted with both sides, and attaching one of our brands to the NHL via a promotion could have negative feedback," Cooper said.
"Right now the sponsors are taking a hard look at this. Their frustration level is incredibly high. The NHL holds the cards to a certain degree, but they are definitely going to get damaged over this. I think in the next round of negotiations with their sponsors there will be a weariness to pay top dollar and a weariness to go in with the existing formula in case of a work stoppage."
This lockout could erase all the positive financial gains they’ve gained over the last six years, and the NHL has no one to blame but their own mismanagement.
- The OKC Barons have won five straight and outscored their opponents 24-11. Taylor Hall had six asissts in two victories in Charlotte over the weekend, while Jordan Eberle had four goals. The good news for the Barons is they’ve started to score 5×5. Only four of their 24 goals during the winning streak have come on the PP.
- Eberle has 11 goals on 50 shots and a ridiculous shooting percentage of 22%. Is it possible that Eberle is that good of a scorer? And that contrary to what many think he might be able to maintain a SH% of 15-17% when he returns to the NHL. I know many feel he won’t be able to, but he’s proving it again, albeit at the AHL, that he doesn’t need many shots to score.
- People should be more amazed by Justin Schultz’s shooting percentage. He has ten goals on 54 shots, which is a mind-blowing 18.5%. Since the lockout the highest SH% by an NHL D-man with at least ten goalswas 12.8%. Lubomir Visnovsky had 10 goals, on 78 shots in 57 games with the Oilers in 2010, and Mike Green had 31 goals on 243 shots in 2009 with the Capitals. Schultz’s shooting percentage isn’t something I will concern myself with once he gets to the NHL, but right now he’s scoring at a ridiculous rate.
- The U of A Golden Bears football team has a short list of five candidates for their head coaching position. You can expect the Eskimos to have a short list for their vacant GM job finalized by early December.
- I think Joe Flacco will become the Kevin Glenn of the NFL. Solid QB, with good career stats, but he won’t lead you to a championship.
- At 33 years of age Ricky Ray has the almost the exact same stats as Anthony Calvillo, minus a few TD passes, but Ray has three Grey Cup rings. Calvillo had one at age 33, but won two more in his late 30s.. With Calvillo starting to slow down, they’ve lost to Hamilton and Toronto in back-to-back playoff years, Ray should have at least two more Grey Cup appearances coming out of the East. He could finish his career with four or five rings. And some delusional fans, and Eric Tillman, will still think he isn’t a competent QB. Strange.
- Whether you like Justin Bieber or not, it was a great move by the CFL to have him perform at half-time. The CFL got huge brand awareness of it, and lots of coverage on non-sports outlets. You don’t need your half-time show to represent your fanbase. Bieber is considered one of the top-three most influential artists in the world right now, and having him at the 100th Grey Cup was a brilliant move. And good on him for showing up and playing for free.
- Do you want to be in a music video? Tomorrow night country music artist Brett Kissel will be shooting a video for his new song; Hockey, Please Come Back. Shooting starts at 6 p.m. at the Pint off Whyte (8032 104 street). Show up wearing a hockey jersey. It can be any NHL team, a retro one or even something like the Charlestown Chiefs from Slapshot.
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