Hockey fans? Nothing to look forward to. Still.
All the November games were canceled. The Winter Classic? Canceled. Further talks and negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA? Canceled.
The only thing these guys seem capable of doing is saying "no." They are getting really, really good at it.
The cancellation of the Winter Classic, which is far better than watching the Rose Parade on New Year's Day, prompted both sides to get talking again. Things were going relatively well. Talking was certainly a good start. There were discussions about revenue sharing and the "make whole" provision of player contracts but when it comes to other player contractual items, like free agency, nothing has changed.
The NHL and the NHLPA continue to shoot themselves in their feet. And other body parts, as well. Now both sides feel that they need to take a two week break from negotiations. Really? Nothing like a sense of non-urgency to get things done.
Apparently it does not matter that hockey fans are the ones getting royally screwed in this whole matter. And the folks who work for the hockey arenas and organizations who are not getting paid.
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN had a great article addressing the permanent damage that will be done from this lockout. http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/20265/the-damage-this-time-will-be-permanent. Perhaps someone can forward this article to both Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr? Or just plain put it on their desks and force them to read it.
"Know this: It’s too late to declare anybody a winner no matter how this plays out. The buzzer has sounded. Both sides will be declared losers. The long-term damage incurred by this league and industry can’t be undone at this point. There are corporate partners who might never want to reinvest in a sport that doesn’t play every time a CBA is up. There are fans who promise that they were fooled once, but it won’t happen twice. And there are markets that won’t rebound easily, not for a while, even with a shortened season."
LeBrun is dead on, but do either the NHL or NHLPA care?
In the 2004-2005 season, everything wasn't canceled until February, so theoretically, there is still time to come up with something. On the other hand, based on what has gone on so far, don't hold your breath. Just wait for the inevitable "we had no choice but to cancel the season because (fill in your lame excuse here)."
Happy holidays to you, too, NHL.