The NHL can’t afford another lockout like the one that cost the league the entire 2004-2005 seasons.
GM meetings ended Wednesday with very few talks of a new collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA, which ended that ’05 lockout, expires Sept. 15.
Leaving the final day of meetings, a handful of GMs, including Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero and Philadelphia’s Paul Holmgren, said the CBA wasn’t even discussed. While I understand you need the NHLPA involved in discussions, shouldn’t they have at least mentioned it? That scares me.
The theme from the meetings seemed to be “business as usual.” And that scares me. The league has come a long way since 2005. NBC and NBC Sports Network, formerly Versus, has done a great job broadcasting games. Adding in the shootout in the regular season to eliminate ties made the end of games much for exciting. Eliminating the red line and the two-line pass allows for more breakaways and odd-man rushes for more scoring chances. Goalies’ pads were even made slightly smaller to try to increase scoring to make the game more fun to watch for fans.
The NHL got it right.
The league is also getting closer to a new icing rule, which will be huge for player safety. Plays where it is clear the defensive player will reach the puck first, will be called icing automatically when the puck reaches the goal line. If the offensive player has a chance to reach the puck first and nullify the icing, the linesman will allow the race to happen. High school and college hockey have the no-touch icing rule.
What I was really hoping would come back into play was realignment. The league came up with a new alignment plan back in December, which the players’ union eventually shot down. Commissioner Gary Bettman said realignment will be discussed again and that he thought the plan they designed is a good one and one that should eventually be put in place.
I agree. Let’s just hope there is actually a season to begin with.