Training camps were set to open in a mere six days, while opening night in arenas across North America is scheduled for less than one month from now. But on Sunday at midnight, the National Hockey League officially locked out its players for the third time in two decades, putting all future dates on ice indefinitely.
Whether you're an avid fan who has been following along, or the wake-me-in-January type casually keeping abreast of the developments, news of a lockout coming into effect is nothing earth-shattering. One need only look at recent history to suspect labor strife is always right around the corner in the NHL, and overtures toward this latest work stoppage have been a year in the making.
As for what it's all about, Sarah Baicker breaks down the meaningful issues better than I can. If I were being succinct and forward though, I would argue it boils down to the owners crapping on the players rather than attempt to resolve the real issues a handful of franchises are having maintaining profitability.
All this, unfortunately, at a time when by seemingly any measure the sport has achieved record popularity in the States. It's bad enough longtime fans constantly are put on the back burner because the league "knows" they will come back. However, they risk disenfranchising new fans, thus potentially cutting into the league's growth with this latest stunt.
What happens next is anybody's guess. For the season to start on time -- unlikely given how far apart the league and the union are said to be -- you would think camps need to open on time or without much delay, which means there is still a week or so to figure things out. Most observers feel the entire season will not be lost as a result, so there's that at least.
As far as the Flyers go, not much to be said for their part. As Menta reported for CSN, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier were optioned to the Phantoms in advance of the lockout. It remains to be seen whether any of Philly's players will look to Europe for work. At this point, most probably are not yet certain what the next step is.
Not much left to add, other than it's a damn shame. Labor disputes are a fact of life in the real world, increasingly so it feels in all walks of life. We saw it with the NBA and NFL over the past year and a half, and football still has their officials watching the games on TV with the rest of us.
It's a little different with the NHL though, because it's constant, and they just lost an entire season like yesterday or something. Not to mention it's hard to sympathize with a bunch of wealthy owners when their front offices are running around offering 100-million-dollar contracts as if they are Arby's coupons.
You're smart businessmen. Figure it out. Spare the rest of us.