On this, the 51st day of the NHL Lockout, instead of painting our faces, suiting up in our favorite Lightning Player’s jersey, and racing down to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to watch our Bolts battle on the ice, we are instead sitting at home in sheer bewilderment on what has become of what was to be our 20thAnniversary Season.
Not only have we lost over a month of what some of us consider the greatest sport out there, but as of last week, we lost one of the most anticipated games of the year; the Winter Classic. On January 1st, hockey fans from around the world would have descended on Ann Arbor, Michigan to watch the Detroit Red Wings take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s one outdoor event of the year.
After the hopes of an 82 game season vanished, it seemed like there was no end in sight. Fans have found themselves surrounded by an overwhelming sense of doubt that these negotiations will ever come to a satisfactory end, leaving us with another lost season just like in 2004-05.
Is there a light at the end of this extremely long tunnel? Well…both sides returned to the bargaining table on Saturday when the two sides sat down face-to-face until the early morning hours of Sunday. This is the first time in two weeks that they have met.
On Sunday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said:
We had a series of meetings (Saturday) and exchanged views on the most important issues separating us. We plan to meet again sometime early this week.”
And meet they shall. The NHL and NHLPA are scheduled to resume talks on Tuesday in New York City, according to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun.
The last proposal made by the league offered a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue. That proposal was rejected by the players’ union, who then countered with three proposals of their own. The NHL rejected each of those based on the fact that they did not “build off of the league’s proposal,” and has since pulled its offer off the table.
The two sides continue to disagree over player contracts as the NHLPA would like for current deals to be honored by the league.
Maybe it’s just me, but I sure hope that these meetings can produce a meaningful dialogue that will usher in a new agreement before we lose another month, or maybe more, of the 2012-13 season. However, knowing you guys like I do, I am sure I am not alone here.
Next on the chopping block is a game that I have much looked forward to the entire off season. On December 8th, the Tampa Bay Lightning is set to host the Colorado Avalanche, who as you know, currently employs our sorely missed fan favorite, Steve Downie. I can assure you that I will be highly upset if this game does not come to be. Almost, but not quite, as upset as I was the night I found out he was being traded away.
These new developments bring to light a small glimmer of hope that our 20th Anniversary season MAY happen after all. I just hope that this small trinket of hope that they have given us does not transmogrify into a giant boulder of disappointment that comes crashing down on our heads.
Either way, we shall find out on Tuesday if we can reclaim the Hockey Paradise we have all come to love, or if we will remain in this dreaded lockout for a little while longer.