SPORTS GALORE: Not much hope for an end to lockout

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 3:21 pm on Friday, January 04, 2013

There was some optimism early this week that the nonsense called the NHL lockout would be coming to the end.

After all, the NHL owners actually submitted a proposal, which included some amendments from previous “going through the motion” offers. That was late last week.

But then the NHL players association (NHLPA), represented by former longtime baseball representative Donald Fehr, made a counter proposal. Then the NHL on Tuesday made, yet another counter proposal.

And now, where do we stand? With the NHLPA, for a second time taking a disclaimer vote, which would allow the union to dissolve. There was a yes vote the first time, but the union held off with dissolving. This time, that may not be the case.

Dissolving the union would prohibit the players from bargaining as a union, but would allow them to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league to end the lockout.

So here we sit today, still without NHL hockey to watch or games to attend. And because of this, my hope of watching the Detroit Red Wings anytime this season is pretty much gone.

Why? Because 30 franchise owners and several hundred players can’t decide how to divide more than $3 billion in revenue. I wish we had that problem here at work.

At this point, I’m not leaning toward any one side of this argument. I just want to watch hockey.

If the two sides can not come to an agreement in the next week, the season will be completely lost for the second time since 2004. That is just crazy.

I will watch hockey as soon as they come back, this year or next. Unfortunately, that is not the thought of the masses.

The NHL is already the least popular of the four major sports. Revenue has increased, player salaries have increased, ratings have increased since the last lockout, but so has tension between management and workers.

Despite the increase in revenue, the NHL still doesn’t have the best economic model. Without the massive television contracts the other three sports receive, the NHL has far too many teams losing money.

I don’t know how to solve it, but the NHL risks alienating fans for good. Many came back after the last lockout, but many will not after this debacle of a lockout.

Unfortunately, I will have to get my hockey fix through the Grand Rapids Griffins, who are currently in first place. It’s not the same, but close enough.

I’m hoping for a sudden change in thinking from either of the groups, but I will not be holding my breath. If even possible, I long for the baseball season to begin that much sooner.

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