So there will be hockey, but honestly, I don’t think that’s enough at this point. I am not a hardcore NHL fan by any means. I don’t mock Leaf fans (although I do not understand their loyalty to an increasingly failing team) and I don’t chirp the few brave Senators fans that roam around London. I appreciate good hockey and I understand that some people badly need their NHL fix. However, the fans deserve more than hockey. This is the second lockout in less than a decade and if this becomes a trend I can only imagine the detrimental effects it will have on the league.
Toronto is a prime example of the blatant disrespect the NHL is showing its fans. While over the past months Blue Jays GM Alex Anthropoulos put together an all star roster to give the Blue Jays not only a realistic but probable (knock on wood) chance of making the MLB post- season, the 2013 Leaf’s roster has little improvements to boost and a doubtful chance of making the playoffs- which will be played into June, by the way.
Although the lockout is over, the work is not done. Most likely games will start January 19th and the season will be 48 games long with a post season. However, until then there will be endless amounts of work. Training camp would start as soon as Wednesday for some teams and the hockey operations division of each franchise will be frantically trying to fill spots on teams and pick up free agents in the last days. The lockout dragged on for 113 days, but now in the short time remaining the schedule has to be made, team spots need to be filled, marketing departments need to complete sponsorship deals, group sale divisions need to sell a whole bunch of tickets in a short time and for teams struggling with their fan base this could prove to be a huge problem.
Multiple other problems arise when thinking about the upcoming NHL season. Season ticket holders are questioning what the status of their seats and prices are for the shortened season. I as a fan wonder how they are going to handle a shortened break between the end of this season and the beginning of next. Not to mention that although there will be games, more work has to be done to fully complete the deal. Finally, with only 48 games being played, this NHL season has to make up for all 113 days that were missed. There is an immense amount of pressure on the NHL to deliver not only a memorable season in an extremely short period of time, but also a worthwhile season for players, fans, coaches, administrators and everyone else involved.
The NHL is back and we’re all happy. I’m happy to start hearing about hits and dangles rather than what day of the lockout it is and how there’s no progression. I’m happy the Canucks will have an opportunity to gain back some of the respect they lost last year during their early exit from the playoffs. I’m happy the young Kings have an opportunity to defend their title. I’m especially happy they were able to agree on a ten year deal to avoid this in the near future. I’m happy the NHL is going to happen. But just because it will happen, doesn’t mean everything in hockey land is perfect.