With a little over two weeks to go until the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expires, there has been little in the way of progress in negotiations.
Both sides will meet again today in New York but by now we know where they stand. The Owners want to lower the share of hockey related revenue going to the players, meanwhile the NHLPA feels as though they made concessions in the last CBA talks and are looking to hold their ground this time around.
You all know the reality of the situation by now. League Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that if there is no new CBA in place by September 15th, the players will be locked out. All around North America, buildings that are usually full of activity this time of year, will go silent.
For the die hard fans in Ottawa, the loss will be significant. Trips down to Scotiabank Place to see the city’s heroes in action won’t happen, HD televisions will scan the dial for something other than Sens hockey at seven o’clock, and jerseys will hang in closets and on walls, waiting for the return of the game we love.
But there’s an element to this lockout that isn’t being talked about.
More than the penny pinching owners, the money-hungry players, and the passionate home-team supporters, there is another significant group that feels the sting of the lockout. And perhaps it’s a group that will be hit harder than any other.
It’s the people that rely on the NHL for their livelihoods.
It’s the people selling you your season tickets. It’s the Game Day staff that make SBP “go” on game nights. The people selling you a beer (or several) at the game, the red-coated ushers showing you to your seat. These are real people, with real bills to pay, and real families that are left in limbo during a lockout.
Down at Scotiabank Place, the impact of a potential lockout is already being felt. According to people I have spoken with, an undisclosed but apparently significant amount of staff will be temporarily laid off while additional employees will be placed on a reduced work schedule. That includes people in the sales office as well as the game day staff that would usually work during the season.
A comment from an individual that relies on the NHL but has already felt the impact of the looming lockout;
"It's just a shame, because we're all fans too. We love this game, but if there's no hockey we don't just lose our beloved game - we lose our jobs - our livelihood. That's why we have to remain optimistic as much as we can"
More than just those who work directly for NHL teams, the impact will also be felt by local restaurants that rely on Game Day traffic. Not just the people that run those establishments but also the waiters and servers working in them. This reality certainly won’t be unique to Ottawa either as 29 other teams will find themselves in the same situation.
So as you hear both the players and owners clamor for a larger percentage of hockey related revenues, try to think about the everyday people that could soon be receiving zero percent of their usual income.
For the sake of those that rely on the NHL to make a living, here’s hoping there can be a resolution in the not too distant future.