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NHLPA find new best friend in Steve Belkin
Steve Belkin is a part-owner of the Atlanta Thrashers and has now become the new best friend of the NHL players association. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Belkin let the cat out of the bag as he talked about plans to use replacement players for the 2005-06 season. This could have an impact with the labour relations board as the owners will eventually try to show an impasse and the players will counter with a charge of unfair labour practices. It also shows the hardline views of the two sides and the little or no chance that the 2004-05 season can be salvaged.
What was hockey like in 1988?
The recent lack of negotiations over the ongoing NHL lockout have made it very likely that we won't have any hockey for a while. Canada's TSN network seems to have gotten this message loud and clear. They put on game four of the 1988 finals between the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins during primetime. It was a refreshing change from the brand of hockey we would be seeing had the NHL season started (as originally scheuled) today. Those who doubt this assertion only need to take a quick look at the two lineups. Gretzky, Messier, Kurri, and Fuhr versus Bourque, Neely and Moog - all playing at the top of their games.
NHL players have a strange way of showing solidarity
As we get closer to the one month anniversary of the NHL lockout, a lot of NHL players are still getting ready for a hockey season. No they aren't suiting up with a minor league team to stay in shape. Many (almost 200 till date) will be suiting up and playing pro-hockey in Europe. Not only that, many of them are earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and even more if they are playing in Russia. Even as the majority of these players are of European descent, several North American players like Joe Thornton of the Bruins, Alex Tanguay of the Avalanche, Daniel Briere of the Sabres, Steve Reinprecht of the Flames and Jeff Halpern of the Capitals are also going to be making a living playing hockey in Europe.
Who will survive this NHL Lockout?
As the NHL lockout enters its 20th day, some franchises are taking a bigger financial hit than others. During the recent spate of NHL expansion the existing teams collected millions of dollars in fees and the NHLPA bolstered its ranks as the number of players grew with the teams. The rapid (imo senseless and greedy) expansion that occurred in the 1990s may turn out to be the league's achilles heel. Many experts believe that teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Nashville Predators have seen attendance and fan support decline over the last couple of years. Since the NHL is primarily a gate driven league with next to no TV money, teams cannot afford to have ambivalent fan bases.