Frozen Grounds: The NHL Lockout Is Coming

There has been much speculation as to whether or not the NHL will lockout its players, but at this point, it looks like a done deal.

Unless you've been living under a rock - or you only watch ESPN - then you should know that the NHL will be locking out its players tonight. Officially, it starts at 12:00 am Eastern, also known as 16 September. Many hockey fans are battling through the five stages of grief at the moment: denial, anger, bargaining (or desperation), depression, and acceptance. Their favorite legal drug will be taken away from them, and many are at a loss.

Beginning yesterday, teams started assigning players to the minors in preparation for what's to come. Those who needed to go through waivers passed today without the threat of another team trying to take them. Those too young or not qualified to play in the minor leagues will play for the major junior teams and their college teams. Established NHLers are still formulating plans as to what they might do - though, a few have already figured that out.

For a league that's claiming to be poor, their signing spree makes that claim rather hypocritical. Especially when you consider that they want to limit contracts as much as possible. You would think that they'd put off signing players until a new agreement that benefits them more would be in place, but that's simply not the case.

As of yesterday, by 5:30-ish pm Eastern....

The NHL's website does have some things about the labor negotiations, but not very much. At this point, no one is saying a lot, to be honest. The NHL Players' Association website does have quite a lot on the topic. And for you baseball fans, you'll see a familiar face - Donald Fehr is currently heading up negotiations for the NHLPA.

Here's what the hockey media are saying about the situation:

So it’s about a $1-billion difference over five years, or $210-million a season. That’s down from the previous difference of about $320-million a season, so they are getting closer.

Now the thing to remember is that’s all based off of 7.1 per cent growth. No one truly knows if the NHL makes more or less than that going forward.

-Measuring the NHL-NHLPA divide: Oh, about $1-billion, James Mirtle, The Globe and Mail

Q: IT SEEMS AS IF LABOR STRIFE IS COMMON TO THE NHL. IS THAT TRUE?

A: It has been during the past two decades. Players struck in 1992, a walkout settled on the 11th day after 30 games were postponed. A 103-day lockout in 1994-95 led to the cancellation of 468 games, reducing each team's schedule from 82 games to 48. Another lockout eliminated the 2004-05 season, making the NHL the first major pro sports league in North America to lose an entire season to a labor dispute. It was settled on the 301st day, July 13, 2005, after players agreed to a salary cap.

-NHL lockout: What you need to know, James Blum, Associated Press

Q. Why would they strike again so soon?

A. It's not a strike, it's a lockout. You know, like the NBA and NFL just did? Just like that.

Also, we suspect the owners kind of like it, being that they don't lose as much money by not paying the players and end up getting a crap-ton more of it in the end.

-How to explain NHL lockout to your non-hockey friends: Puck Daddy’s Guide, Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy blog (Yahoo! Sports)

Our savings with an NHL lockout? $1,880, and I think that number is soft. I lowered the bar bill amounts under protest from my husband. (I sign the bar tabs, they’re higher.)

-How much will you save if there is an NHL lockout?, Sarah Sprague, freelance writer

We Are The Champions

The Norfolk Admirals, Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate, captured the Calder Cup this past spring after defeating the Toronto Marlies in four games in the Caalder Cup Final. Some familiar names on the Admirals are former Canadian World Junior goalie Dustin Tokarski and former Flames draft pick and pawn in the Dion Phaneuf trade Keith Aulie.

The Marlies beat out the Abbotsford (BC) Heat, the Flames' AHL affiliate, in five games in the Western Conference Semifinals, ending their somewhat surprising playoff run.

-Better Know a Hockey League: The AHL, Hayley Mutch, Matchsticks and Gasoline - an SB Nation Calgary Flames blog

Barring an 11th-hour miracle - which isn't at all likely since the NHL and the NHLPA are reportedly not meeting today- or they come to an agreement within the next two weeks, the NHL will almost certainly not start on time this season.

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