LOCKED OUT

Well, it's official. The clock has struck midnight and a summer of discontent has turned into an autumn of utter frustration. As expected, the NHL has locked out it's players. Instead of training camp, exhibition games and then the glorious return of the regular season, we, as fans, get to sit around and twiddle our collective thumbs waiting for someone to blink. A poll and more after the jump...

This should come as no surprise. Neither side has made that much of an effort to find common ground in the weeks leading up to this point. As a long time fan of the game, I absolutely see the need for the NHL to get it's financial house in better order but what galls me is that this should have been done eight years ago when an entire season was lost. This was the system the league wanted, thinking a hard salary cap was some kind of magical cure all for it's troubled teams and overly generous GM's. Apparently, their thinking just wasn't progressive enough as the players have done pretty well under this just expired CBA (when most people at the time thought they got their hats handed to them) while the number of teams losing money continues to rise. With the NHL raking in record gross revenue and the players benefitting from some pretty juicy contracts there is plenty of room for compromise. Both sides are going to have to get together and actually try to come to a sensible agreement. One that works for big and small market teams long term and isn't totally reliant on the players simply giving back a large portion of their paychecks or else we are just going to go through all of this again 5-7 years from now.

So when does this end? My heart tells me somewhere between early October and early December. In my opinion, the situation isn't quite as dire as it was eight years ago because the players have already accepted that the salary cap isn't going anywhere. I don't think we'll see much happen in the next week or two as each side will dig in to appear ready for a long fight but after that we could start to see some progress. My head on the other hand, tells me this is going to go a lot longer unless the players buckle rather quickly. The owners showed the last time around they are willing to go to unprecedented lengths to get what they want and if there are indeed as many teams in trouble as some think, then the players might want to start packing their bags for Europe because this could take a while.

Whether it's my heart or head that's right, I, as a rabid fan, lose either way. We all do, unless they come to an agreement in short order which would be a very pleasant surprise. So get the Rampage bandwagon ready, I am just about to jump on...

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