The NHL Lockout is over…So, now what ?
There are always winners and losers in situations like this. In the case of the just completed National Hockey League negotiations it’s hard to tell one from the other. Make no mistake, the owners came out of this as the winners. They’ll get their 50-50 revenue split. Had it all the way. The details that were hammered out during the marathon overnight session Saturday night into Sunday could have been worked out two months ago. They just became an exercise for the players to save some face while giving up seven percent of the revenue and looking for a soft landing spot on the issues of salary cap and pension. Even though they lost they did win something. About 100-150 jobs saved. Some of the owners may not feel like winners. You can probably count about nine of them, the nine who made money last season, who may have just as soon seen Gary Bettman’s January 11th deadline come and go without a resolution, which would have allowed them to scrap the entire season and go into restructure mode, to possibly return next season minus four to six weak sisters, put out a stronger product and hand pick four new markets where they could make up this seasons losses with next season’s expansion fees. Of course, while the owners and players can both claim victories, real, imagined or both, there’s is one clear cut loser. The fan, who will be paying full ticket prices to watch players and teams spending a couple of weeks getting into regular season shape. There will be a trickle down effect, and it was already evident yesterday at the XL Center. The Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins sat three players on orders from their parent in Pittsburgh to have them healthy and ready for training camp. Two players were scratched by the Whale but coach Ken Gernander says both were injury scratches, Chris Kreider with an “upper body” injury, Martin Hrivik with a “lower body” injury. The continued trickle down could be good for the Whale as other AHL teams lose as many as four or five players to their NHL parents. The Whale could stay intact. J.T. Miller, just returning from success with the U.S. junior team, and Kreider may be called up to the Rangers camp, but neither is considered ready to stick at this point, organization insiders saying take last seasons Stanley Cup playoff success off his resume and Kreider has been a slightly above average AHL rookie this season. Miller needs to mature into an NHL role. Another player who may get a camp callup is center Kris Newbury, who says he’s excited to have the lockout over, “It’s great for the game and great for the fans, now I’ve got to find a way to get myself up there and get myself to stick”. While Newbury has NHL talent he has one problem that drives coaches crazy. An inability to stay out of the penalty box. If he can resolve that issue he’ll become a clear cut winner. And right now there aren’t too many of those. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.