Hockey in 2005? Yeah right.

Jan 182005
Authors: Joelle Milholm

So the NHL is having another meeting to try and settle financial disputes and save the remainder of the 2004-05 season. There have been many negotiations since the lockout began, but supposedly this one is different.

This one is informal, without the presence of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Players' Association Executive Director Bob Goodenow, and it is expected to be a good chance to, as Joe Sakic said to the Denver Post, "Give it one last kick at the can."

Well, this last kick at the can is going to produce the same results as the other ones: a big, fat swing-and-a-miss.

The 2004-05 season is over. More games have already been cancelled than the number of MLB players who use steroids, which according to my exaggerated total adds up to 650, as well as the all-star game.

But the NHL would have fans believe there is still hope for games this season. If an agreement is reached, the NHL would scrap together a 24- or 28-game season, similar to that of the 1995 season after that year's lockout concluded on Jan. 11. They played a 48-game schedule that year and produced a Detroit championship team on June 24.

There will be no shortened season to look forward to this spring. Previous negotiations have shown that NHL owners and the NHL Player's Association are more stubborn than a Red Wing fan living in Denver.

Even if some miracle did happen and the two sides could come to an agreement, what are the fans supposed to do? Forget that there hasn't been hockey for the past four months? Forget that players and owners did not care what fans, the ones whom they are supposed to be playing for, wanted? Do they really expect fans to just go out, buy tickets, go to games and act like nothing ever happened? Are they serious?

While players and owners were arguing over dollars that are measured in millions and deciding which one of their vacation houses in the Caribbean they will have to sell when they have to take a pay cut, I have moved on.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Avalanche. Not being able to watch Joe and Co. this winter has been a hard realization. But I have gotten used to it.

As much as I would love for the NHL to start back up, I am not just going to go out and be the face-painted, pompom-waving fan that I once was. Why should I be? So I can go out and follow my team, start to get visions of the players hoisting the Stanley Cup over their heads, only to have them stop playing because they can't agree on how much they should get paid?

It is going to take time for me to trust the NHL again, just like it took me a while to get back into baseball after the MLB strike in 1994. Baseball has yet to recover in terms of fan attendance and interest in the sport.

Who knows what the effects of this year's lockout will be on the future of the NHL, but if everyone is complaining that they don't get paid enough now, what are they going to think when no one comes to see their games and they lose a large chunk of their income?

When or if the NHL does start again, I am not going to games or watching them on TV. Maybe next year or the year after that I will start to get back into it. But if it stays on its current track, there may not be a next year or a year after that.

Joelle Milholm is a senior technical journalism major. She is the Collegian's sports editor.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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