The NHL lockout is tough on everybody: the players, owners, and especially the employees and fans. The greed of some affects the lifestyle of many, and the sport of hockey suffers as a result. There’s no hiding the fact that this lockout is horrible.
But if you choose to demonize the owners and blame them for the entire situation, keep in mind that not all owners are created the same. Perhaps some of them are being victimized just the same as those being locked out of money. Most of these owners would actually rather accept the NHLPA offers than lose an entire season to a lockout.
Consider the Panthers’ majority owner, Cliff Viner. Look at all the momentum the Panthers have developed over last year. The team had one of its most successful seasons in its young history, and captured South Florida’s attention ad they made their way to a Southeast Division title. Sportswriters were talking about them, games were being sold out, the tiredness that usually accompanied conversations about the Panthers replaced with excitement. Why would it make any sense for Viner to surrender an entire year and ruin all the positive vibes? It doesn’t.
Also look at the San Jose Sharks’ ownership group, Stratton Sclavos and Kevin Compton. They get sellouts every night at HP Arena and their team is a perennial Stanley Cup contender. But their nucleus is aging: Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau would both lose a year from their careers, and the chase for the Cup would get that much more difficult for San Jose.
Most teams find themselves in a similar boat as these two teams: the possibility of profit and attention is too high to pass up.
So if there are owners who would want hockey to be played, it begs the question of which owners are not as eager. Since only Bill Daly and Gary Bettman are allowed to speak for the NHL and the owners, nobody can be totally sure. Good guesses can be hazarded that the big-market teams are participating in driving down negotiations. Maybe a team like the Rangers or Canadiens would seriously demand a buy-out clause for players, and a team like the Maple Leafs or Bruins would balk at higher revenue-sharing. These teams, since they are a few of the real power players within the NHL, probably have more say in negotiations than the Panthers and Sharks of the league. At least we assume this, since the positions taken by the NHL in meetings seems slanted more for the richest teams in the league to benefit than the ones with lower budgets.
Whatever the case, there needs to be a realization among the owners in general that there needs to be sacrifice on their part in order to make a deal work and end the lockout. Some owners already recognize this, but a few are still in denial.
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