June 22, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on stage at the 2012 NHL Draft at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Keys to the Season #1: Lockout Cannot Happen

March 26, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate win against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The Lightning defeated the Flyers, 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Throughout this series, none of the other specific keys to the season will have an order or ranking but this is without a doubt the number one key to next season.  There actually has to be a season!  Obviously, in order for the Tampa Bay Lightning to have success this year, the lockout must not happen.  This is the single most important step because if there is a lockout, then another season will be lost which will lose even more fans for this great sport of hockey.  In the past few weeks, proposals have been exchanged, sides have explained their reasoning, and not a whole lot of progress has been made.  Most people think that a lockout is inevitable, but this way of thinking must be stopped.  The owners and the players need to work nonstop to get the best deal possible for both sides that will let the 2012-2013 NHL season go on as planned.  There has to be a fair deal out there that the NHLPA and the owners can both agree on and it has to be done quickly.  I’ll admit it, I am a huge fan of the sport of hockey and without it life is just not the same.

This past week the NHL owners have given a counteroffer to the recent NHLPA offer and it has had mixed reactions from just about everyone.  According to multiple reports the two sides are failing to see eye to eye on the “language” of the deal.  The owners are offering a 50-50 split of the revenue while the players argue that based on some other changes the players would really only get about 46%.  The NHLPA has spent most of the last 2 days looking over the numbers of the latest deal and another counteroffer is expected sometime today.  There really are a lot of complicated issues going on here and twitter has definitely been the best place to learn about what is really going on.  I think that the basic issue has been explained best with two quotes from Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA leader Donald Fehr.  Bettman said “We believe that we are paying out more than we should be” which Fehr responded with “Everybody understands that employers would always like to pay less.”  It always seems this way, but it really is all about the money.

Fortunately for hockey fans, there is still time.  The current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on September 15th but the season does not start until October 11th.  This gives the owners and the players about a month to figure out a deal.  This will be a huge moment for hockey as this deal should change many details of the current CBA.  I am on the optimistic side and truly believe that no hockey will be missed.  Call it a gut feeling, but I think on Saturday, October 13th; Lightning fans will be tuning in for the opening game against the Florida Panthers.  I look forward to that night which is why this key point needs to get resolved in order for the Bolts to have a successful season.

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