The 2012-13 NHL lockout is finally over.
Yesterday morning, after 113 days of failing to get work done, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association reached a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement. It took looming legal deadlines, the imminent loss of billions in revenue, and the presence of federal mediators, but hockey season is on its way.
I’m not the world’s most optimistic guy, but I looked for the upside in the lockout. In the beginning I saw what a lot of other hockey fans saw: that I suddenly had more money in my pocket and time on my hands. The money didn’t go far (it never does) but the time sure did. I learned to program computers, something I hadn’t done since I was in middle school. I took a road trip and played some poker. I didn’t think too much about hockey other than the occasional “sure would be nice if there were a game on.”
Once I started editing this site, I used the lockout as a motivator to fill in the gaps in my knowledge of the Nashville Predators franchise. Back before Gary Bettman killed the 2004-05 season I knew a lot about the Preds’ prospects, but in the intervening years I hadn’t paid as much attention. I took the opportunity to study up on some of the team’s more recent picks like Austin Watson and Michael Latta. For the first time in a while I feel like there’s some reason to be hopeful about the offensive products coming up in the Nashville system. Without the NHL lockout, I might not have taken the time to study enough to feel that way.
I also took the chance to study up on all the teams Predators players had signed with in other leagues around the world. I’d done the same thing during the last lockout out of pure desperation and came away with a lot of knowledge about overseas leagues. I didn’t have the same enthusiasm this time around, though – I’m eight years older and, having already been through one NHL lockout, more jaded than I was in ’04-’05. Besides, all there was to learn was Pekka Rinne getting injured in the KHL. That’s the kind of thing no Nashville fan ever wants to hear.
All that’s in the past now – or so I assume. Normally I don’t like to put the cart ahead of the horse, but I feel pretty confident that we wouldn’t be hearing all this talk about the end of the NHL lockout if this weren’t essentially a done deal. I know Gary Bettman is a heel, but I don’t expect him to be so much of one that he finds a way to pull the rug out from under this deal. (I also don’t expect he’ll be fired. It’d be a lot cooler if he were.)
Finally, I can get back to talking about actual NHL hockey instead of past or potential NHL hockey! There’s nothing more frustrating than having to qualify ever statement I make here with an “if the lockout ends in time for a season.” Now I have the freedom to speculate on something that can actually be proven right or wrong within days or even weeks. There’s a natural corollary to that: you have the freedom to point out to me how crazy I am. That ought to be fun!
Goodbye, NHL lockout. I won’t miss you a bit.