"I, Slater Koekkoek, am happy to report I will not be taking my talents anywhere near South Beach for the 2012 Tampa Bay Lightning rookie camp... Oh, wait, that's not good, right?... Damn labor dispute..." (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Tampa Bay Lightning were set to participate for the second time in a rookie camp tournament hosted by the Florida Panthers in Coral Springs. The camp (which was also set to involve the Carolina Hurricanes and Boston Bruins) and camps like it around the league tend to be a prelude to the start of NHL training camps.
But the camp / tournament was set to open on September 15th, 2012... On that same date, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NHL and Players Association was set to expire (with the league refusing to continue on under the expiring CBA). With that in mind, why bother flying players in if they'll just be sent home tomorrow?
So, the Panthers decided to nix the camp this season. Consider it the first of what could be many casualties of the ongoing and unsettled labor dispute. I don't even want to think about what will be nixed next. I do know that the lingering issue is ruining my revelry in the 20th Anniversary season for the Lightning, which the team has been promoting since the 2012 NHL draft.