If you're reading this, then it means there is no new collective bargaining agreement and so the National Hockey League has locked out the players. For those who have been paying attention to the whole labor negotiation saga, this is not surprising news. The press conferences earlier this week from both the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr pretty much all but said that there would be a lockout. Teams have already assigned players to their American Hockey League affiliates and various players are signing deals to play elsewhere.
It's been known for quite sometime that if there was no new CBA in place by September 15, the Board of Governors would lockout the players. They weren't kidding. And it won't end until there's a new agreement between the union and owners. Who's to blame? To be honest, both sides. Despite all the PR work and posturing, it's really both sides' fault to get a deal done by this date. Sure, you can take sides on whether the owners are demanding way too much of the players instead of, say, revamping revenue sharing to make the economics make sense or whether the players are being too stubborn in standing pat on demanding no salary roll back, a very short CBA, and acting like they're being taken advantage of in a league where the minimum salary is over half million dollars. You can (and I have a feeling some will) try to argue for/against one side; but the reality remains the same. Both sides claimed they wanted to avoid this, that they just want to play, and so forth. Clearly, they didn't want to avoid this as much as they'd like us to believe. Both sides failed to call up the people representing them and say, "I'll take less to save the season," or "Let's reduce the demands to ensure we have 82 games in 2012-13." They failed make it happen. They failed. Both sides lost.
You'll notice I didn't mention the fans until now. That's because we're irrelevant to the CBA negotiations. Protests, boycotts, petitions, and angry rants on the Internet won't matter because the ones who do matter aren't listening nor is it going to get them to start talking. Moreover, when there are NHL games, we'll be back. I'm not saying you shouldn't be unhappy about it. I'm certainly unhappy about it! I want a NHL season. I want to be writing about the New Jersey Devils starting training camp and not figuring out where everyone's going. I want to look forward to going to games. I want a full NHL season. If one side has to suffer or "lose," then sucks for them - as a fan, whether the owners or players get the short end of the stick doesn't really affect me. Sacrificing a part or the whole season does. To that end, a pox on both houses.
It's deflating that there won't be any NHL action in the foreseeable future. It's upsetting that after all of this time, nothing could be put in place by either side. It's embarrassing that after another season of high revenues, a new TV contract, and all kinds of attention that it all comes to a crashing halt. It's infuriating that this is happening again. It is what it is. So what happens now?
In terms of the New Jersey Devils and the NHL season, we wait. That's all we can do: wait. Until there's a deal done, nothing happens on that front. There will be plenty of Devils going down to Albany with others going overseas to play.
What I can tell you is what we have planned here at In Lou We Trust. Yes, we're still going to be providing content. We're not locked out of anything, after all. With the increase of NHL talent in Albany, we'll definitely have a regular summary of what is going down there when their season begins in October. We'll also have regular summaries of what's happening with Devils prospects in Canadian junior and NCAA leagues when they start too. With a few Devils going to Europe, we'll keep tabs on how they're doing whilst hoping they don't get hurt or sick. We'll also have a few projects going on, starting with a Top 25 Under 25 list like Copper & Blue has been doing. And there may be a few surprises here and there too. It'll be a little while before that begins, so you'll see the same kind of content you've been reading for the past few weeks for a little while longer. It's something to check out as we all, unfortunately, wait.