NHL locks out players, follows recent trend in pro sports

by Connor Danik
The current lockout involving the National Hockey League (NHL) is the latest in a series of labor disputes in professional sports that has denied fans the opportunity to follow their favorite teams.
In 2011, the National Basketball Association (NBA) experienced a lockout that dealt with similar issues to the current NHL lockout, which include revenue sharing, player salaries and maximum contracts. The season was shortened as a result.
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The National Football League (NFL) locked out referees in the beginning of the 2012 season. The referees demanded higher salaries, retirement benefits and a guarentee of the number of referees who will work year round.  The league turned to replacement officials until their inexperience and questionable calls caused a stir by angering players, coaches and fans. The NFL was able to get referees back with a deal signed on Sept. 26, but not before many fans felt their teams’ success had been compromised.
While the NBA and NFL have settled their disputes, the NHL now finds itself enveloped in a similar issue. On Sep. 15, after the latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expired, the owners declared a lockout of the NHL’s players.
One reason for the lockout is the players’ share of the league’s revenues. Owners seek a 50-50 share instead of the 57 percent that originally went to players. “Owners will realize how much money is being lost because of the lockout, and will want the players back,” said junior Eric Hogan.
Another issue is maximum contract terms: the owners are proposing to limit maximum contracts to five years to avoid deals like Zach Parise’s 13-year, $98-million contract with the Minnesota Wild.
“I feel that none of them are willing to compromise for the sake of the sport,” said sophomore Kayla Brady.
The last issue is sharing revenue within the league. The proposal is that high-revenue-earning teams would distribute money to lower-revenue-earning teams each season. The goal is to make the league more competitive by preventing ten teams from dominating the entire league.
The NHL has cancelled all games in Dec. wiping out526 games. As a result, more than 100 players have committed to playing oversees, including Washington Capitols left wing Alex Ovechkin and New Jersey Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who have already started the season playing in Russia.
“I think it is absurd. The players and the owners are making a big mistake,” said senior Patrick Foti. “The NHL gets the fewest viewers, so it would be even worse if they have this lockout.”
Professional hockey’s popularity has surged to an all-tie high in recent years, but fans fear the lockout will damage the sport’s reputation. Mediators were called in to try to solve the lockout but both sides could not agree to a compromise.
“I think that the recent lockouts have been unnecessary, especially the recent NHL lockout. This is the second lockout in eight years the NHL has faced, so I do think fans are being turned away from the sport,” said junior Brian Deutschmeister.