As the NHL lockout has progressed to the point where the full 82-game regular season is going to be axed and the two parties have seemingly reached a stalemate where the NHL won’t entertain other offers, or negotiations, unless they are based on the 50-50 offer it made last week. We’ve heard how the NHLPA made three different proposals, but they were dismissed in 10 minutes. The mind boggles how it is so difficult to resolve this issue.
Let’s face it no-one winning in this situation. Not the NHL, the owners, players, other team staff, fans or arena staff. Or wait… on second thought there might be one winner here and it’s the KHL as Russian NHL stars are coming out saying that they will stay in the KHL if the owners won’t honour existing contracts by rolling salaries back. If there is no new CBA signed today, the players will have lost 14.8% of their salary within 4 weeks of games cancelled, whereas if they had agreed to the NHL proposal they would have lost 12% of their salaries over a full season.
However, perhaps one of the biggest losers of the lockout is the Los Angeles Kings (and in the greater picture the west coast of NHL). When the Kings went on their incredible run on the way to the Stanley Cup, it raised the profile of hockey tremendously in the area and no doubt in West coast. Yes I know that Anaheim won the cup as the first California/West coast USA based team, but what harmed the potential PR out of Anaheim’s win was that within half an hour after Scott Neidermeyer and co had hoisted the cup, Paris Hilton went to prison to serve her DUI charges , which stole the Ducks’ thunder.
The Kings, however, had everything going their way throughout the playoffs. Witty Twitter commentary throughout the playoffs, great marketing around the finals and best of all a packed out arena. OK there were a few mishaps, when the local news station thought the Kings were a basketball team, but the way it was handled by the Kings media team was exemplary in the way it was turned into a positive. Again another tongue in the cheek media stunt pulled off.
There was a huge buzz about the Stanley Cup finals in Los Angeles. It was palpable through a TV Screen and through out-of-town media outlets. The Kings’ profile was lifted in Europe as well. They had Anze Kopitar the only player from his native Slovenia to reach the NHL (so far) as well as getting loads of media attention from European media outlets. See the Kings are a team that you rarely don’t see on the TV here in Europe, or have that much written about them in the mainstream media, that is unless you are a diehard Kings fan an you go out of your way to find the feeds and stories so you can follow your team.
The Stanley Cup did a lot to the Kings’ profile and the lockout has undoubtedly put serious dents in the great work the team has done in the local area. The finals put hockey on the map in Los Angeles and now with the lockout dragging on, many of the newer fans to the team and the sport might forget all about the existence of the team again.
With international stars like David Beckham in the audience for most games and other celebrities getting into the game (of hockey), the lockout is really doing its best to mess up Los Angeles’ chances to truly grow the sport/team to truly be one of the top sports teams in the area (out of Lakers, Dodgers and Clippers. Note I haven’t included NFL here as the closest team to LA is in Oakland).
So with all that could have been done for hockey in Los Angeles, the Kings are probably one of the teams that will suffer the most out of the lockout. While the lockout may have caused some issues in terms of PR and marketing for the Kings organisation, I doubt the diehard fans will not have deserted the team. However, will we see some of the people who started to get into hockey during the playoffs cone be back? I’d say it all depends on the duration of the lockout. The longer it goes on the more the newer generation of fans will forget.
As said, this lockout is ridiculous, as the parties seem reluctant to actually get a deal done. Both say it is of utmost importance to get the season started, but there seems to be little, if any, urgency to actually get things under way. The longer the lockout goes on, the more it hurts the fans, the behind-the-scenes staff at teams, the league. The next blow to the NHL will be when they have to cancel the Winter Classic, 24/7 and the All star game, but on the positive, they only have to look in the mirror to find the culprit.