January 7, 2013

NHL deal brings back season, but what about fans?

Players appeal for support despite the frustration of a long lockout, and one fan calls for a 10-game boycott.

From news service reports

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this image from video, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, left, talks to the media as Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Association, stands next to him, in New York, early Sunday. A tentative deal to end the 113-day NHL lockout was reached early Sunday morning following a marathon 16-hour negotiating session.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, left, and Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players' Association, reached a tentative agreement early Sunday in New York to end a nearly four-month-old lockout that threatened to wipe out the season.

The Associated Press

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"I'm hoping that our fans understand this was something that had to be done for the strength of the league, for the strength of the Players Association," Snider said by phone. "I hope they don't hold it against us and just come out and see some great hockey. If I had to guess, I think we're going to be in great shape."

Still, the lockout could wipe out as much as $1 billion in revenue this season, given that about 40 percent of the regular-season schedule won't be played. And although the stoppage was major news in Canada, it was an afterthought for many American sports fans.

"They could have gotten here a lot sooner," said Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based sports business consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd. "They didn't hear a hue and cry from the fans, especially in the United States, when hockey wasn't played. That's very distressing. That indicates there's a level of apathy that is troubling. In contrast, in the NFL when there was a threat of canceling a preseason weekend, the nation was up in arms."

Once the new collective bargaining agreement is approved by both sides, the NHL will hold either a 50- or 48-game season that would begin on Jan. 15 or 19. Schedules have not yet been released, but it is believed that either option would see teams face only conference opponents.

The shortened season will feature a pro-rated salary cap of $70.2 million, while the 2013-14 season salary cap will fall to $64.3 million, with the salary floor at $44 million for both seasons.

In total, 625 regular season games, including the outdoor Winter Classic, and the All-Star Game were canceled.

This was the third lockout among the major U.S. sports in a period of just over a year. A four-month NFL lockout ended in July 2011 with the loss of only one exhibition game, and an NBA lockout caused each team's schedule to be cut from 82 games to 66 last season.

The Washington Post and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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