It is becoming increasingly likely that there will be no hockey this fall, winter, and spring this year in Tampa Bay and other cities across North America. That is pure sadness for all hockey fans including me. A year off does so many bad things for the game and pretty much nothing good.
Lockout is a word all hockey fans fear, especially because we are upon our second lockout in the last decade, something no other pro sport has dealt with. Below are some issues the lockout presents for teams
-Other than baseball I cannot think of a sport that has so many levels of development and a emphasis on player development. Sure the NFL has the practice squad and basketball has the D-league, but hockey and baseball have complex system of player growth leading up the big leagues. Each organization has different players in different countries playing at different levels. Although most leagues keep operations going during the lockout, many players end up playing less hockey and at a lower skill level. This causes many young players to take a year off from legitimate growth and some can even regress. This puts most players at the same or lower skill level while being 1 year older. Not ideal. Think about a fringe NHL player who is close to becoming a full time NHLer, but he is 24. Now have him pick up where he left off at 25, a much less attractive age in the eyes of an organization. Now everybody is a year older, a tough penalty to pay in a sport where young talent is always desired.
-Contract disputes can happen after a lockout because the CBA can be changed, the salary cap can become lower/higher, and players can be cut over roster bonuses and such. Putting a 1 year gap in play and changing the entire financial structure of an organization can be very troublesome for players and GM's alike.
-Facility Management comes into play too. Not all building are dual-use area's and so running a huge arena for the occasional event now that hockey is not there is nice, but for most arena's that are used 90% for hockey just become depreciating wasting space. Building simply collect dust for months because owners won't pay any more than they have to for facility management and the buildings will be empty most nights.
-The economy will suffer. Sure it sounds silly because hockey is just a game, but really think about the economic impact one game has on an area, not to mention an entire season. 1st of which is jobs. People are working all game day. This includes sports specific media, arena operators, concession employees, and the players. Money is being exchanged constantly during a season. There is sales of food/drink at local establishments, parking spot payments, ticket sales, NHL fan gear, etc. All of that goes away with the dismissal of a season.
-Loss in popularity of the sport is also crucial. Hockey has been growing and even was able to gain popularity when NBA fans had nothing to watch for a month or 2. Yea every CBA and lockout should make the game better, but taking a year off will make it worse. Hockey is to many, the best game on earth, but those "many" are actually quite a minority of sports fans, not in Canada. even Tampa Bay experiences troubles with fanhood, but it is getting better! Not to mention the ranking by ESPN as one of the premier franchises in all sports. The sport of hockey will not grow, but only recede, if the NHL is not happening from October to June.
Good That Could Come With Lockout:
-A multi year deal that prevents a lockout for a while
-Rule and financial changes that make the sport better as a whole
-Hurt players have time to rest and old players have extended time period to gear up for another season
*Clearly the bad outweigh the good.