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national hockey league
collective bargaining agreement
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What would you think about this business?...For almost 100 years it has desperately tried to get the attention of the American public. It's a quality product, yet hasn't come close to the success of its counterparts. However, for the past few years, it has enjoyed it's greatest success, and has finally captured the attention of much of the public that had ignored for all this time. It's on top of its game, yet now decides it's shutting down.

What's this business I am talking about? It's the National Hockey League. For decades, hockey has lacked the attention it deserves. In Canada, it's easily the most popular sport. In the United States, it has desperately tried to widen its appeal and attract the same attention as other sports like baseball, football, and basketball. It's closer than it's ever been to reaching that plateau. However, instead of riding that momentum, the NHL is taking itself in the opposite direction. The collective bargaining agreement expires on September 15. If an agreement is not reached, the league will lock out its players from beginning the pre-season. From what I have been reading, the league is not even close to an agreement, and many are saying that the season is in jeopardy of being postponed or even cancelled.

The bottom line for the NHL is that this season is cancelled, or even seriously delayed, it would be suicidal. The league had lost many fans due to the season being cancelled in 2004-05. However, it recovered well. The game improved, and many new fans were won due to innovations such as the Winter Classic, a national contract with NBC, and rule changes that resulted in a more open and entertaining game. All this will be lost with any type of work stoppage. The fact that a lockout is even being considered is completely baffling to me. You finally get close to where you've always wanted to be and you throw it all away? Why are they even thinking about this? There are 5 simple reasons... M..O..N..E..Y. It's as simple as that.

The NHL simply is not popular enough to recover from another work stoppage. It's just a fact of life. Football is so popular in the United States that they could cancel 5 seasons, and the fans would still be right back when play resumed. Yet, the NFL was still smart enough to come to an agreement when faced with the same possibilty last year. No games were missed. Now the sport is even more popular than it was. Even basketball is popular enough that, after a lockout cancelled part of the season last year, fans came back, and the league experienced a popular and successful season. Hockey does not have that luxury. It does not have the same history in the U.S. as football or basketball. There are so many other things Americans can choose to do. Hockey will not be missed. In fact the success that has been achieved in the past few years will be very quickly forgotten if there is no hockey for an extended period of time.

I am certainly hoping something changes in the next few days, and hockey continues building the positive momentum it has created. I have been a huge fan for over 30 years, and I am so happy to see the sport finally getting the attention it deserves. I have been wating all summer for a new season, and hope to see games soon.

On the other hand, if these leaders are stupid enough to lockout, strike, or whatever, I can easily drop this sport like a bad habit. I know many others that feel the same way. So...anyone interested in joining me to watch the Mannings on the football field, Jeter in the World Series, or LeBron and Kobe on the court?


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