NHL Cancels Winter Classic – Is Stanley Cup Next 2012 NHL Lockout Victim?

The NHL officially cancelled the Winter Classic Friday. As the 2012 NHL Lockout continues to cancel games and CBA negotiations falter, is the Stanley Cup the next hockey victim?

We’re running out of things to take away, boys and girls. First it was months of the regular season –well, first it was player salaries, then months of the season, then preseason hockey games, then regular season games, and now the Winter Classic. I suppose they can formally cancel the All-Star Game if they’d like, but it seems the 2013 Stanley Cup will be the next victim of the 2012 NHL Lockout. Like my troubled step-sister we sent to a correctional facility when I was eight, I fear I will never see NHL hockey again.

I like(d) the Winter Classic. The childlike joy that a good, old-fashioned pond hockey game brought the NHL was good for the sport. The Winter Classic was an innovative way to bring hockey tradition to a new generation of fans while expanding national reach. Cancelling the Winter Classic, citing investment concerns and venue demands, is an aggressive and frightening step towards another lost season. Sports is a business after all, and that’s never been more clear than now. With the Winter Classic gone, the All-Star Game a gimmick, Russian superstars threatening to never come back, and hockey hopes at an all-time low, I fear the Stanley Cup will be the next victim of the 2012 NHL lockout (soon to be the 2012-13 NHL lockout).

I understand the position of the players, but I wish they would accept a reasonable CBA offer from the NHL. It is absolutely absurd for owners to utilize the conclusion of the CBA constructed from the lost season of 2004-05 to escape exorbitant contracts they voluntarily offered players. In many cases these lofty contracts and incentives were used to lure talent away from other organizations and into life-changing decisions (like leaving New Jersey for Minnesota and marrying a frigid Mrs. Zach Parise). Still, those contracts were rendered under a 57/43 revenue split that everyone appears to agree was utterly ridiculous. How can the players be negotiating for contracts that were constructed under an admittedly unreasonable CBA?

The latest round of CBA proposals centered on a 50/50 revenue split, but players demand a guarantee that all current contracts be honored in their entirety. As a result, negotiations have stalled again. In principle, asking to honor current contracts seems more than reasonable at first glance, but given the ridiculous nature of the CBA these contracts were based on, maybe the players should reconsider their stance if they want to play hockey again.

Isn’t a small salary cut and a good-faith (and possibly useless) promise from the NHL to do everything they can to honor salaries (pending growth) better than the alternative of losing an entire year’s salary? If this is truly millionaires arguing over how to split up our money as fans, shouldn’t they realize that the few thousand dollars lost to the new CBA will be far less than an entire year’s six-to-eight-figure salary?

It’s only a matter of time before the 2012 NHL lockout sacrifices another season. I wasn’t particularly interested in this year’s Canada-friendly Winter Classic (don’t those guys have the Heritage Classic already?), but I would have watched. Another lost season could cause irreparable damage to an already gun-shy fan base.

Mark Donatiello
Follow me on Twitter:  @FasterHockey ...read more

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