Puck stops here; NHL players want more money

By Christine Blom
October 28, 2004

Shane Evans

It was the tip of the iceberg for National Hockey League members when executives broke the news that there would be no season until further notice.

“At first I thought it was a joke, like the reporters weren’t serious,” Vicki Nicodemo, sophomore communication major, said. “I was so sad. I didn’t know what I was going to do especially being a season ticket holder.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Agreement between the NHL’s executives and players has resulted in a lockout that threatens the entire 82-game season for the first time in the league’s 87-year history.”

The lockout is taking place because the NHL feels as if there should be a $40 million salary cap. It is also expected by officials that any team over that budget amount should reduce it as soon as possible because it is not necessary.

The NHL Players Association strongly disagrees and believes that they deserve the salary that they are currently receiving. Some teams, such as the Philadelphia Flyers, have a salary budget of at least $55 million. This is an example that the executives are calling “unacceptable.”

After a meeting on Sept. 9, Bill Daly, NHL executive vice president and chief legal officer, said, “More than half of our teams would still lose money and nearly a third of them would still lose in excess of $10 million each season.”

According to ESPN, the NHL’s official season was supposed to begin on Oct. 12 but 6 games have already been missed. That is a loss of over $3 million because of ticket sales, concessions and advertising.

The lockout may lead to a domino effect of job losses if the season does not start soon. Employees of the arenas, NHL referees, players and coaches are all out of work until the league comes to a resolution. Every one of these people is currently unemployed and trying to occupy their time to the best of their ability.

According to Sports Illustrated, Ken Hitchcock, Flyers head coach, is using his time wisely by coaching voluntarily at Princeton University. He also plans to help out other local universities such as Villanova, Temple and University of Pennsylvania.

Some of the athletes are speaking out about the national phenomenon. Flyers captain Keith Primeau said, “The lockout is discouraging because fans are excited about Flyers hockey again, and we’re excited about playing for them. To not get that opportunity will be disappointing.”

Nicodemo, just like players and other fellow die-hard fans, is trying to use her spare “hockey-time” to support other local minor league teams such as the Trenton Titans and Atlantic City Bulldogs.

“I have been watching hockey for six years now,” Nicodemo said. “I am not going to give up on the sport since, I do enjoy it. I am going to support it, especially locally.”

Daly said, “The partnership model we are prepared to negotiate, and remain committed to pursuing in collective bargaining, would serve to stabilize the industry, provide all 30 of our Clubs with a fair opportunity to be economically and competitively healthy in their current locations, and create a platform upon which to continue to build the exposure, popularity and revenues of this game – for everyone’s benefit.”

Though it is unknown how long the lockout will continue, the NHL is working on getting things accomplished as quickly as possible to keep fans, like Nicodemo, happy and spending money at the games.

“There better be hockey next year,” Nicodemo said. “If not the cities will go nuts and I’ll probably take part in the madness.”

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Christine Blom

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