Right about the time most of the NFL referees (NFLRA) completed their first game (you can thank my Green Bay Packers for that) after the end of their lockout, the NHL owners and players (NHLPA) were concluding a third day of talks on Sunday, September 30.
The NHL lockout officially began at 9:00 p.m. PDT on Saturday, September 15. The league almost immediately canceled preseason games for the rest of the month, giving the very teams it claims to protect less time to evaluate and develop the young players they will have to rely on more than the wealthier teams.
This was exacerbated on Thursday, September 27 when the rest of the preseason was canceled. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has left little reason to believe the regular season games will not follow, admitting they would get canceled some time this week. The San Jose Sharks first scheduled game is Friday, October 12 in Orange County, CA.
The problem is that parties are not dealing with core issues because the league is waiting for the NHLPA to come up with another proposal. Union negotiators are focusing on finalizing the other issues until one side or another bends.
While the San Jose Sharks added only two new players projected to suit up at all, this will affect the team more than in previous years. This year’s roster features four players with less than 45 games in teal and one more whose last game for San Jose was November of 2005.
Nevertheless, the Sharks could benefit from this. Most of the league has either more roster changes or a younger team.
Just within the Pacific Division, only the world champion Los Angeles Kings have a more set roster and only the Anaheim Ducks have an older core. This means that other teams will need more time to gel and gain less from a shorter season.
Of course, veteran captain Joe Thornton is playing in his wife’s native Switzerland. But most of the players committing to play during the lockout are under 30 and need play more than rest.
Those players also help their cause. When a Detroit Red Wings official compared the players to cattle and the owners to the ranchers, it was no surprise to Martin Havlat, as evidenced from this quote taken by CSN Bay Area:
I can tell you the players have been called a lot worse by some of the guys on the other side. It’s just never been reported publicly. I think it helps that the fans get to hear what we already know. We’re not humans in their eyes; we’re just pieces of meat that get to eat some grass for awhile.
The more elite players making money in the various professional leagues in Europe, the more competition there is for the NHL to consider when bargaining with the NHLPA. The wealthier owners might be compelled to chip in something substantial to the struggling markets rather than relying on the players for most of that revenue.