It has been just three days since they NHL owners officially locked out their players for the first time since 2004 and already the winds of change are blasting through cities all across the league. A number of teams have sent handfuls of their players down to the American Hockey League while older veterans are packing their bags and heading for Switzerland, Germany, Russia and the like in search of a paycheck. The speculation is that preseason NHL games could be canceled as early as the end of this week and it seems that the owners and players are going to be in a bit of a stalemate for at least a little while and that some regular-season games will probably be erased from the schedule this year. There is always so much that I as a fan can complain about all of this and say that the players and owners should get their heads out of their butts and get a deal done, so let’s just go over today’s lockout news:
Minnesota Wild Fans Get Added Incentive For Holding On To Season Tickets
The Minnesota Wild organization probably has probably had the most loyal fan base in the NHL since professional hockey was re-introduced to Minnesota back in the year 2000. Their commitment to their fans first became evident when they retired the jersey #1 with the word "Fans" written on the back at their inaugural home game. This past off-season, the Wild landed the two biggest unrestricted free agents on the open market in defenseman Ryan Suter and homegrown forward Zach Parise and although the lockout could not have come at a worse time, fans who stick it out through the lockout will get 10% interest on their season tickets as long as they do not ask the club for a refund. It’s good to see that at least one franchises keeping their fans at the top of the priority list in some way.
Florida Panthers Become Second Team To Lay Off Staff
If you work in sports and just happen to live in the state of Florida there is a small chance that you have been laid off not once but twice and in two different sports leagues because the Florida Panthers announced today that they are laying off an undisclosed number of employees. This comes just two years after the Miami Heat of the NBA laid off all of their sales staff after the team signed three of the world’s biggest basketball stars. The Panthers organization now joins the Ottawa Senators as the first two teams to ask employees because of the lockout.
Players Move To The AHL and Abroad
Mark Streit (New York Islanders) and Yannick Weber (Montreal Canadiens) are returning to Switzerland to play for Geneva-Servette while it looks like Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks and Rick Nash of the New York Rangers may be teammates again with HC Davos by this time next week… Buffalo Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff of the Buffalo Sabres is off to Germany.
As for the American Hockey League, the Buffalo Sabres have sent 20 players to their affiliate club in Rochester and the Philadelphia Flyers have sent 26 players to Adirondak and many more teams are following suit. Although I think most hockey fans would agree that they would rather see their favorite players on their favorite teams in the NHL, NHL players do give the American hockey league a boost in terms of the on ice product and I am sure that there are young stars out there who could really use the development as opposed to potentially giving up the year of their careers sitting around.
Ever means to be seen how long the lockout will actually last blood until that time players will have to do everything they can to capitalize on the limited window they have to make big money. Certainly as the days go on players will be less likely to stay loyal to their union mates and start to divide the terms of their own opinions and surely the lockout will come to an end. Hopefully that sooner rather than later and the players have learned from what happened in 2004.
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