NHL: Where do we go from here?

With the departure of NHL superstars Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk to the Kontinental Hockey league in Russia, we realize that this lockout is definitely serious. When will it end? Without a light at the end of the tunnel, the hopes of watching professional hockey in Montreal look slim.

Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman are planning to meet on Sept. 28 for the millionth time, which is good because they still want to tell each other that they won’t agree with each other’s proposals. However, fans have become restless and are dying to watch their favorite teams play.

The fact that we are stuck in this crossfire between two groups each being paid millions of dollars (Bettman gets $8 million and the players have more than they can cash in) leaves us to try and find something else to watch on TV. The biggest sports event coming to the Bell Centre is the New York Knicks versus the Toronto Raptors. That’s not normal for our hockey-saturated city.

We realize this is a mockery of people who are passionate to watch their favorite players score goals, win games, and enjoy the game of hockey. These players and organizations believe it’s much more than that. Let’s look at the details.

The NHL wants to cut away 25 per cent of player salaries in order to compensate for the fact that four of 30 teams did not make a profit last season. Players like Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin have nothing to cry for; they are each paid 10 to 12 million dollars a season to shoot a hockey puck in the net (that’s without sponsors and bonuses). Take 25 per cent off $12 million and you still have $9 million in your bank account at the end of the year. Any person who’s not a professional athlete would never complain of such thing. But hey, we aren’t all Ovechkins right? Since all the players are under the NHLPA, Ovechkin has the right to cry for the other players who aren’t even paid half his salary.

What I don’t understand is why Gary Bettman said last year was the most profitable year in the NHL. If that’s the case, how come we cannot use those profits and help boost the teams that do not have any money? What about investing in a city ready to make money? For example, transferring the Coyotes to Seattle, a city that already has a football, soccer, baseball and a former basketball team, would make sense. This is definitely a city that would be able to create profits in order for the NHL to shut up and stop preventing the CBA negotiations.

Until the NHL and the NHLPA are able to get somewhere with their negotiations, I will stay by sad hockey fans that have no choice but to change their channels to the NFL and soon the NBA. Not as entertaining as hockey, but hey, it’ll make us happier than watching the two sides argue.

If the NHL and NHLPA cannot come to an agreement soon, they’ll lose more than just money – they’ll lose fans as well.

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