As ratification of a new CBA inches closer and closer, NHL players and teams are rushing to tender fans apologies for the lockout. My response to NHL teams and players is to save the apologies; they are empty, insincere public relations stunts. The NHL isn’t sorry for the lockout. The NHLPA isn’t sorry for the lockout. If either side was truly sorry, a lockout never would have happened as the sides would have negotiated well in advance of the expiration of the old CBA.
The inevitable spin is happening; assuring fans that the new CBA is a win for the fans because hockey is back! Again, something that falls flat. What was really achieved? There’s no plan for the new NHL like there was at the end of the last lockout. There are rumors refs might call more penalties but expect that to die on the altar of whining about too many penalties and the need to let the players play. There’s no economic system so the majority of NHL teams will once against struggle financially and consider themselves lucky to break even. Yes we have to wait to hear details of the new CBA but from TSN reports, fundamentally little has changed. Salaries will escalate as teams that wanted the lockout poke holes in the new CBA like they did the old CBA.
In the end the big losers, as always, are the fans. Shallow apologies and “Thank You Fans” on the ice is just more salt in the wound. It does make you wonder what would happen if the NHL and NHLPA actually cared as much about the NHL as the fans do. Because we’re fans we’ll get over the lockout. Once the playoffs start it will be a distant memory to most of us. And that simple truth is what the NHLPA and NHL bank on: fans are so devoted that no matter what is done to us we’ll still allow people to get rich off our hard earned money because watching hockey games is a pleasant diversion from the rest of our daily lives. It’s what happens when finances collide with the desire and need to be entertained.