After 113 days the NHL and the NHLPA have finally reached an agreement on a new CBA. That the process took this long and cost both sides a large amount of money you'd have to assume there was a point to all of this. Some items or issues that just had to be dealt with. Things so utterly important that the NHL simply had to be stopped for more than three months. Well, if you thought that you would be wrong because this CBA wasn't ever about anything like that and so it changes nothing. Not one thing.
Regardless of what the final document says there are still going to be a few teams making fistfuls of money and others that lose more money each year than you or I could ever comprehend. As a group, the players are going to be making a little less but nobody on that side of the deal will be going hungry any time soon. And GMs have had their hands tied a little but given their collective stupidity and desire to win they're still going to sign bad contract after bad contract. No CBA was ever going to change any of these things. And the best part is we'll get to do it all over again in 2022.
It might seem pessimistic to be planning for the next labour stoppage immediately after this one has ended but make no mistake, it will happen again. Following the lost 2004/05 season we all came back waving our money and practically begging the NHL to take it from us. In the seven years since the last lockout the league saw revenues grow from just over $2B to $3.3B. There was no backlash from the fans following the last lockout, in fact things have never been better for the owners and players than they are right now, and so there was no fear in going down this road again.
But things will be different this time around, right?
I doubt it. Take a look through Twitter today and you'll find a lot more people overjoyed by the return of the NHL than those who just don't care. And not caring is what we should all be doing. The owners and the players decided to take our support and our money for granted over the last three months. They took away the game we love. This isn't the kind of thing that should be tolerated but it will be. I hate myself a little bit for saying this but I'm not going to stop going to games and, trust me, I'm not going to be alone in Rexall Place. The story will be the same across Canada and the strongest makes in the United States. The fans will come back.
There might be a few places where there are some struggles but as revenues continue to grow the short term pain these markets might face this season and even next will be more than offset by the long term gains. This is why the NHL pushed for a ten-year deal, not so there would be labour peace for a decade but so the owners could recoup any losses they might incur. The less painful those losses are the more likely we'll get to go through this again and is why I wouldn't be making plans to watch hockey in the fall of 2022.
I'm glad hockey is back but for the good of the sake of the fans I wish we were all just a little less happy.