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The Malik Report

We all ‘played hurt’ during a lockout-shortened season, and hard feelings still linger

Between Rocky Wirtz's comments to SportsBusiness Journal's Christopher Botta and Gary Bettman's "state of the game" speech, this Red Wings fan and hockey fan feels like the NHL's executives have almost said, "Great season...And we got away with another lockout, moohahaha, moohahaha!"

I'm still "sore" about the third owners' lockout some six months after it ended--to the point that I've boycotted purchasing Red Wings and NHL merchandise since the lockout began, I haven't worn anything with a Red Wings logo on it since last September 15th, and I don't plan on doing so (or placing the Red Wings magnet on the trunk lid of my car) until September 16th of this year, if I ever choose to wear stuff supporting my favorite team again. I don't really miss wearing Wings stuff all that much.

Having been through all three lockouts and even the 10-day players' strike back in 1992, I'm still pretty pissed off about what transpired last fall and this past winter, and while I went back to supporting my favorite team, my feelings are still pretty raw and my disdain for Chairman Mao and the Board of Governors remains intense, I'm not a Donald Fehr fan anymore, and I'm even still angry at Mike Ilitch and Jimmy Devellano.

I tend not to advocate violence against anyone outside of the rink, but my offer to entertain Bettman and encourage him to "try on some shoes" some evening by the Detroit River remains open, and under the proper circumstances, I may throw a shoe at him.

As such, even though Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika penned a column mostly discussing the Blackhawks' second Stanley Cup win over the course of four seasons, I think this part bears emphasizing and perhaps repeating:

The lockout hurt people. It cost everyday folks who work in and around the NHL. It hurt fans who invest their time, emotion and money in the league. It shortened the regular season to 48 games and messed with statistics and history. But when it was over, everyone went back to work, and the fans reinvested. The NHL sprang back to life. One thing unspoiled was the playoffs. It was still four rounds, still the same grueling two months, still the same gladiator spectacular.

No one will forget what happened from September to January. But no one will forget what happened in April, May and June, either. Especially June.

I'm going to have nightmares about David Bolland boarding Gustav Nyquist, Brent Seabrook scoring on the resulting non-call and the hockey world rejoicing because the "hockey gods" delivered the "right result" for the rest of the summer...

No, wait, I've already had those. Repeatedly. And I still feel like Niklas Kronwall does about the Hawks--grumbly and wondering what could have been.

“I think it’s been a good bounce-back half-season for the league, personally,” [Bruins coach Claude] Julien said. “I think the fans got back into it, and you always appreciate their support, because if I’m a guy on the other side, I know how I would have felt. Our fans are very forgiving and supportive, and that’s what this game needs. In order for us to thank them and pay them back, you’ve got to give them the kind of hockey I think that they saw from all the teams here in the playoffs. It was an exciting last couple of months.”

And now it will be an exciting summer in Chicago, until NHL training camp opens again – this time, on time.

“It’s hard to celebrate right now,” Toews said, standing on the ice, amid the mob of players and officials, family and friends. “It makes me pretty exhausted. But once we fill the Cup up, I think we’ll be feeling pretty good.”

If there is any consolation for me, it's that NHL hockey did belatedly join the hockey party--at least we didn't lose an entire season this time around--and it's that the Blackhawks may be celebrating with a trophy that feels like "yours" once your team wins it...

Both the Blackhawks and Bruins are banged-up as all *#$%@& get out, and the Wings' former division rival and their new one have to get ready for training camps to begin between September 10-13 just like the Wings do. That, and the Wings locked up Pavel Datsyuk for a total of four more seasons. Pavel mother****ing Datsyuk.

But man, fans took the lockout hard, and average folks who depend on NHL hockey taking place to make a living paid a high price to get 24 home games' worth of business as the millionaires and billionaires bickered, and it isn't right to mark the 2013 season's conclusion without suggesting that we all "played hurt"...

And that we simply cannot let another lockout happen...

Nor should we forget, or forgive, what transpired over the course of the past calendar year.

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Comments

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

And that we simply cannot let another lockout happen…

As long as Bettman and his disciples rule the roost there will be labor trouble.  Through three lockouts, the NHL has been the clear victor every time. Why would they stop using their scorched earth tactics that have proven so successful? Unless owners that truly love the game start exerting some effort to oust Bettman’s regime, this will all repeat itself again when this CBA is up.

Bettman and company are not interested in growing the game or partnering with the players to grow the game. Bettman and Co. are interested in maximizing the amount of money to be made each and every quarter. Which is precisely bass ackwards. If they based their decision making on what was best for the game first and short-term profit second, they would experience huge returns in the long run.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 06/25/13 at 11:56 AM ET

d ca's avatar

I am probably in the minority on this one, but:

The Wings would not have done as well this season without a lockout.

There I said it. Now for my reasoning:

The Wings had a youth movement that was able to play in the AHL while certain teams (the NYR for example) had players sitting on their butts. Now I get the whole EDM/OKC example of why this might not have been as concrete as I think. But, it allowed guys to step up and into roles (Anderson, Nyquist, Smith, and Lashoff) on the Wings.

Brunner/Zetterberg developed some important chemistry overseas and was probably the reason for Brunner’s red hot start.

Gave Jimmy Howard a extended break…look at the number of games he played the last few seasons…

Meant that older players were more susceptible to injuries and made the Wings rely on the youth movement.

It probably went beyond the players to the team’s future too…

And it might have sped up the new rink. Total theory, but with the Wings not having to pay out 100% of their payroll. They had very few sponsors issues (helps owning one of the largest ones). With season ticket and suite renewal around 100%. I can only guess that the Wings ROI went up even if profit went down.
2011-12: $20.8M on revenues of $128M
2010-11: $16.3M on $127M
2009-10: $15.3M on $119M
2008-09: $27.4M on $130M
2007-08: $13.4M on $110M
2006-07: $14.4M on $109M
2005-06: $5.8M on $89M
Source: Forbes.com
If not for the above theories,  the new CBA win for the owners meant that Ilitch knew he had a few extra million to play with.

Posted by d ca on 06/26/13 at 12:49 PM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.