The NHL has had its players locked out since mid-September, and hockey fans have all but given up on the little bit of hope there is remaining that we might see some action this season.
I'm afraid it's just not going to happen. The NHL remains firm in its stance regarding a salary cap and the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) remains equally as adamant about there not being a cap. Both sides are so stuck in their ways that this entire collective-bargaining agreement issue has become one of pride for Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman, the heads of the NHLPA and the NHL, respectively.
The NFL season is now over with, and the NBA is all we have left for a little while. The Stanley Cup playoff race should be getting really interesting right about now. But not this season.
I know, many of you are probably thinking to yourselves, 'Well, Tyler, it really doesn't matter, the Dallas Stars would've won anyways.' Yes, I know.
The fact of the matter is that it's merely a matter of days before the NHL becomes the first North American professional sports league to cancel an entire season because of a labor dispute.
This is absolutely ridiculous and unacceptable. Not only are rabid hockey fans like me going through withdrawals but also hundreds of people are losing their jobs. Clubs have had to cut down on personnel, manufacturers have had to lay off employees, and no-name hockey players have had to go overseas to find work. As far as I can see, the wrong people are losing their jobs.
Goodenow and Bettman need to be canned because of their tomfoolery and disgrace to the game of hockey. If the players really want to get on the ice and save the game, they need to realize that they can't be paid the lucrative amounts of money they're getting. There should be an upheaval occurring right now within the ranks of the NHLPA. The players need to oust Goodenow and vote directly on what they want to do. The NHL club owners need to follow suit and oust Bettman for getting them here in the first place.
What did local favorite and NHL superstar Peter Forsberg make last year? About $11 million? I believe Wayne Gretzky, the greatest player of all time, made around $6.6 million when he retired, which was more than he made in his prime during the late '80s and early '90s. Before him, players such as Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull played because they loved the game. They didn't get big signing bonuses with millions of guaranteed dollars written into their contracts. They played without helmets, and they played because it's what they loved to do; they were hockey players. They didn't play because they got paid to do it, not by any means. They got paid in cans of beans.
What happened to the hockey player I know and respect? Has he died away, leaving me only these greedy saps behind to fill his shoes? I hope that the NHL gets back in gear and puts players on the ice who care about the game more than their smile. I hope we have owners in front offices who care more about the fans than their wallets. I want more than just the NBA to watch.
Tyler Wittman is a junior speech communications major. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.