Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wake up, fans! The lockout is over, and the Sharks are back!

“Wake up!  Wake up!”  I texted to some of my fellow Sharks fans.  “The lockout is ended!  That Sharks will have a season this year!”

The collective bargaining agreement negotiations finally came to a conclusion around 3AM Pacific Time, and the news spread like wildfire over Twitter and other social media sites.  Many remained hopeful a deal would be made due to the severity of the situation.  If no deal could have been made, the season was likely going to be cancelled.  It was the last opportunity.

To assist with the negotiations process as the time wound down, a federal mediator by the name of Scot Beckenbaugh was brought in.  Many believe his assistance saved the season, due to the high contention between the two sides of the negotiating table: Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the NHL, and Donald Fehr, the executive director of the players’ union, the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA).  The negotiations continually fell through primarily due to the players’ insistence they did not want their pay and benefits cut and the league’s insistence they implement lower salary percentage rates due to most owners losing money.

Even though hockey fans in general may be delighted to see there will be a season, many fans feel like they’ve been cheated.  There were a good number of players voicing their displeasure with the potential of having their salaries cut (and even threatening to stay with their professional level teams abroad), the players union ready and willing to cancel the season, and the league not providing realistic agreements to the table and not honoring existing contracts.  As we all love our home teams and support them through all kinds of media, and by purchasing tickets and merchandise, how should the fans feel when the players and owners are carelessly toss aside the fans because some think they’re not making enough?

With that said, however, there were a healthy amount of players communicating to fans using social media apologizing for how the situation has turned out and how they’re going to “play their hearts out” for the fans if the season is allowed to continue.  (We can only hope they deliver now.)

The new collective bargaining agreement has a ten year life (although there’s a potential “opt out” in eight years), with an eventual salary cap set between $44 million and $64.3 million.  The salaries in individual contracts cannot vary more than 35% year to year, and the final year cannot be more than 50% of the highest year.  (This acts to prevent some of the high front loaded contracts seen in the previous years, such as the contracts the Minnesota Wild signed with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.)

Another important statistic, the revenue sharing percentage between the owners and the players, is now a 50-50 split, instead of the previous 57-43 split, in favor of the players.

As for the Sharks’ season, if play begins on January 15th, which it very well should, the season will be 50 games long (instead of the full 82), although it is possible for play to continue a bit later, which would then result in a 48-game season.

Either way, we will have hockey this year, which means there will be plenty of opportunities to cheer on our Sharks.  Most importantly, however, is the continuation of the season puts the Stanley Cup back into play.



  1. The common comments are: without the Sharks, there's no reason to come downtown. It's a travesty if that's the only reason to come downtown, not being good enough for being a place for people wanting come and stroll around and have fun. When will downtown be more than one dimensional? A downtown shouldn't be just for events only. I guess things haven't changed since 1993.

    1. Obviously that's not true. Downtown has been completely packed all of December, so the Sharks can't be the only reason. Also, more retail, restaurants, and the convention center expansion are opening in 2013. I think even without the Sharks, Downtown would be having a good year.

    2. I hope your right. The comments came from Mercury News, where the worker of Mmoon restaurant said, "without Sharks, there's no reason to come downtown." On another news channel, a girl mentioned that the downtown was a ghosttown when Sharks aren't playing. That's where I heard these comments. I hope you can correct them if you're right.