Monday, September 24, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Day Nine

The days are long. Strenuous. Agonizing.

Today would have been the third day of Panthers' Training Camp. The first day of the NHL preseason. The Florida Panthers would have played their infamous doubleheader against the Nashville Predators today.


I can barely remember the last NHL lockout. 2004-2005. Seems so long ago, really. I was seven, I think. I didn't care too much about hockey back then. I wasn't suffering as much as I am now. Turning on ESPN is such a stretch for NHL fans, we absolutely despise it. They give us no airtime, and when they do, it's only a minute or so.

I can now say to you that I've officially caved.

I turned on ESPN this morning. I watched the highlights of last night's Ravens-Patriots game. And you know what? I still felt empty. I listened to them go on and on about Saturday's college football. Emptiness.

I'm hollow inside.

Each day, I come home from school, thinking that "OH! Hockey's on tonight!" Sadly, I come home to a hockey-less TV. Sure, there are other teams. The Dolphins. The Marlins. And soon even the Heat. But there is nothing that can fill my void. There is nothing that can replace the pure glee I feel when I turn on the TV, waiting for puck drop.

It's only Day Nine. Imagine me on Day 100. That is if I can make it that long. Who knows?

Players are jetting off to Europe, signing deals that will last them until the end of the lockout. Dream teams are being creating, even with some league restrictions of only three NHL players. Highlights that we NHL fans can only dream of now are being made, in Russia, in Switzerland, in the Czech Republic.

Alas, we are left to wait it out. Unlike the players who have signed deals, we must find time to busy ourselves with other things. Trivial things. Things like...that English paper due Monday.

Speaking of which, now is probably the time to get on it. Seeing that I have so much time.

Too much time. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Cat's Meow: Possible Lockout?

Ruchika Sharma covers the Florida Panthers for Teenlink. 

School is back and the days of summer are coming to an end. Though it's still hot in South Florida, the NHL is beginning to gear up for another season....or are they?

Rumours of a possible lockout have been swirling as early as June of a possible NHL lockout. The League's current CBA is set to expire on September 15th, a time when most teams are preparing for their training camps. The Florida Panthers training camp is slated to begin on September 22nd, 

After a profitable year of more than $3.3 billion, the NHL has proposed cutting the players' share of hockey-related revenue from 57% to 46%, which in reality drops to 43% when taking into account the revenues that the NHL will not share with its players. Commissioner Gary Bettman has even stated that if no deal is made by the deadline, the League is prepared to lockout its players. The League also wants to restrict free agency, in terms of limiting the length of contracts to five years (no current limits exist), and increasing the amount of time a player must wait until becoming an unrestricted free agent, from seven to ten years. In addition, the League also wants to eliminate players' rights to arbitration. 

The NHLPA, on the other hand, has proposed a three-year deal with an option to revert back to the old CBA during the fourth year. Players' compensation would grow at fixed rates, resulting in compensation being possibly being reduced by more than $800 million over the next three years, all depending on the League's revenue. Clubs in need of assistance would gain from a significantly expanded and simplified revenue sharing system. Additionally, there would be flexibility for teams as the new deal would help GMs to put their teams together: including the reward of additional draft picks for struggling teams, the allowance of teams to trade dollars and players under certain circumstances, and the allowance of small teams to go under or over the salary cap. 

As of now, talks between the League and the NHLPA are recessed. Sitting around and waiting has exhausted me. A day doesn't go by without me praying that the season will start on time. With smaller market teams like Los Angeles and South Florida suddenly beginning to flourish, the last thing the NHL needs right now is a lockout. With a profit year, and a growing fanbase, a lockout would only stunt the NHL's progress in trying to become a household sport.