Let there be hockey.
After a reported 16 hour meeting last week the NHL and NHLPA came to a “tentative agreement” to end the lockout that has claimed almost half the season. The owners voted yesterday to approve the new CBA and the players are voting now to approve the deal. A week of training camp is slated to begin Sunday and the 48 game season is set to open Saturday January 19th. To save costs and ease the travel teams will only play other teams in their conference. Sources are saying today that the Rangers are set to open up against the Bruins in Boston but no official schedules have been released.
While nobody on either side really wanted to miss that much time, the lockout may have helped the Rangers slightly because it appears that Marian Gaborik will be able to start the year on opening night. Originally he was going to be out six months after a shoulder injury he sustained in the post season. The Rangers will now have arguably their best offensive player back for the start of the season. In fact, outside of Michael Sauer who is unfortunately going to be out another year at least, the Rangers are 100% healthy. That is important because with the condensed schedule the team can’t afford to go into a prolonged slump if they want to win the division and get a decent seed in the playoffs.
Another interesting note is that NHL teams get two amnesty buyouts that they must use before the end of the 2013-2014 season. These are buyouts that the teams can use on under performing players with big contracts so that they won’t count against the salary cap. The Rangers will use one on Wade Redden who has spent the last two years in the AHL. It is less clear who the second buyout could be used on.
The other side of the coin for the players and league as a whole is that they have some major rebuilding to do with the fans. Two lockouts in seven years is beyond unacceptable. It’s insulting to the fans who pay money to see the games and own the merchandise. The league and players need to find ways to lure back more fans who have been turned off by the fact that it took five months to find a way to play hockey. Commissioner Gary Bettman delivered an apology yesterday, but there needs to be more done. Specifically, next time the CBA expires, they need to make sure no games are missed. The league won’t recover from that, even if they find a way to recover from this one.
Finally, even though it’s early I’ll leave you with my idea for what the lines will look like. You can comment with any agreements or disagreements you may have. I’ll be back early next week for a preview on the Rangers upcoming season!
About the Author
Written by Eric O'Connell
Eric O'Connell is Junior at St. John's University in Queens, New York but hails from Connecticut. He has been a life long fan of the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Steelers, and New York Rangers. Other interests include hanging out with friends, listening to music, having a good time, and Coffee Oreo Ice Cream. Follow on Twitter @EOCONN36 (opinions are mine and not Pro Sports Blogging)