The 2011-2012 NHL season was a huge deal for hockey fans in Southern California. For the first time in a 40 year history the Los Angeles Kings took home the Stanley Cup. However, this year's 2012-2013 season has yet to celebrate its opening day, as regular season league play has been suspended in a bitter lockout between the player's union and the franchise owners.
According to an article published by the Huffington Post, the lockout was initiated by a 14% reduction in player's association (NHLPA) revenues, as part of a series of structural changes issued by the league owners. Along with the revenue sharing decreases, the league also imposed new limits on signing bonuses and forced extensions on entry level contracts for rookies entering the league. Collectively the proposed changes would "save" the league $365 million annually and install protections for lower-revenue teams. While the league owners and NHLPA have made several attempts to negotiate revenue sharing, little progress has been made, and the league still remains in the lockout. To date, hockey fans have missed nearly 53 games, and the NHL has missed out on nearly $100 million in revenue.
After nearly two months of negotiation, fans and commentators are confused and angered by the lack of cooperation shown by both sides. In part, this lockout has been relentless because both the NHLPA and league owners have strong, conflicting, arguments concerning revenue. The Franchise owners argue they are investing in a business, and front huge sums of money to maintain the team's infrastructure, salaries, and marketing; therefore, they insist on collecting the profits from their investment. Conversely, the players, who are employed by the team owners, actually generate profit and make the whole operation run. Without players on the ice, hockey doesn't exist.
While the league owners and NHLPA have yet to come up with a solution, both understand they hold the key to their own fates. League owners will not turn profits without fans in the seats, and the players will not get paid unless they play hockey. Hopefully, as President Obama mentioned earlier this week, both parties can quickly "figure it out."
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