NHL Lockout 2013

There is less than 12 hours until the third lockout begins under Commissioner Gary Bettman's watch. The last occurred back in 2004, canceling the 2004-2005 season and resulted in a new salary cap system. However, that system has been failing the smaller market teams, forcing them to keep up with the other clubs who earn more revenue and can afford higher salaries.  

The owners and the NHLPA are fine with a salary cap system; they are not trying to reinvent the wheel all over again. But both sides are trying to structure an agreement on how the revenue is shared between the owners and players.

In recent discussions, several different proposals have been thrown on the table but none have come close to settling the disagreement. Bettman has been prepared to lockout his players if a new deal is not reached by the end of today. Although each side is likely to meet with each other before the day is over, it seems very unlikely that an 11th hour deal will be made.

Prepare yourselves for an NHL lockout to the 2013 season.

New York Sports Brat, a Facebook page that pokes fun at all sports in New York, has enjoyed mocking the NHL's next lockout with several humorous memes and photos.

But that's about the only enjoyment anyone can take out of another lockout in the NHL. The league has come so far since 2005; one of it's major accomplishments was establishing a relationship with HBO with the 24/7 series that covers the Road to the Winter Classic, which itself has become an annual spectacle for everyone in the country to watch. Ratings have continued to go up year after year, and the fact that the salary cap goes up as well indicates that the league, as a whole, continues to earn more money.

But will the NHL be able to say all of this if it were to lockout for another season? Right now early signs are pointing to just a delayed start to 2013, but the possibility of another washed out year is always there.

I can't say I am familiar with too many franchises that can take off an entire year of work every couple of years and continue to thrive.

And this is why teams are preparing for the worst. The New York Islanders assigned 21 players to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers yesterday, including both Travis Hamonic and Nino Niederreiter.

Per the Isles official press-release:

UNIONDALE, NY (September 14, 2012) – The New York Islanders announced today that 19 players have been assigned to the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The club also assigned two players to their respective junior teams.

The players assigned to the Sound Tigers include Marc Cantin, Casey Cizikas, Jason Clark, Calvin de Haan, Brandon Defazio, Matt Donovan, Mike Halmo, Travis Hamonic, Kirill Kabanov, Jon Landry, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Nino Niederreiter, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Kevin Poulin, Blair Riley, Johan Sundstrom and David Ullstrom.

The Islanders’ two junior assignments include Griffin Reinhart, who returns to the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, and Ryan Strome, who rejoins the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The Sound Tigers will begin training camp on Sept. 28 and play their season opener on Friday, Oct. 12 at the Connecticut Whale. Their home opener is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 13 against the Providence Bruins at Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.

It's great to see that the New York Islanders are going to provide opportunities for some of their younger NHL players to continue their development by playing professional hockey, but soon you will start to see others sign contracts elsewhere.

Once again, the NHL's best players will be spread about Russia, Sweden and other countries playing their best hockey for professional leagues across Europe.

It's amazing how easy it is for history to repeat itself.

-Rob McGowan
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