Teams should be skating, pucks should be flying and fans should be cheering with a splash of paint on their faces, but not this season. For those who do not follow hockey, the National Hockey League (NHL) is suffering through a lockout. The main reason, of course, is money. The players want more while the owners want salary caps, which would lead to a pay cut in players’ salaries. The owners feel a salary cap is the only way for small-market teams to survive.
Most players in the NHL are headed to Europe to play. About 250 players have joined European teams since September (when their collective bargaining agreement expired), though they’re signing deals that would allow them to rejoin their teams if the lockout ends.
The lockout is not only affecting players but also employees and arenas. NHL games account for half of some arenas’ events. With the lockout in place, employees at the arenas are at risk of being laid off and have seen cuts in their paychecks. They shouldn’t be expecting games to resume this season, though, since the players are standing firmly on their decision not to have a salary cap.
I think the players are wrong. They have to realize they cannot get paid as much as other professional athletes because hockey does not have the fan base or the media coverage. There is no reason for owners to pay millions for players, since they already get paid enough as it is. Players should start accepting this and realize that the fans are more important than the money. I hope the lockout will end soon so we can get back to watching “the fastest game on ice.”
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.