Sunday was a relief to hockey fans all over North America as it was announced that the National Hockey League Players Association and team owners had agreed in principle on a deal which would end a nearly four month long lockout. Finally, hockey season is upon us; well, pending league ratification.
Students on Eastern Michigan University’s campus are anxiously waiting for the games to start. One of them is sophomore Martin Urbaniak, a Resident Advisor in Wise Hall.
“I will definitely be catching any games I can, and a few of my friends are hoping that EMU offers an excursion to a Red Wings game this season,” Urbaniak said. “If not, I’ll be opening up my piggy bank to go to Joe Louis Arena.”
People on either side of the lockout have taken sides. People who support the players said the greed of the owners is what led to the lockout in the first place. Supporters of the owners argue the players wanted too many concessions from the league. Most fans sat somewhere in the middle.
Sophomore Jeffrey Williams is one of those people. He argued a good point in favor of the players, but pointed out a fault many players possess.
“I guess I can kind of see where both sides are coming from,” Williams said. “The players have worked hard to get to the NHL level, and should have a sense of security in their career especially with the injuries that may occur. However, the salaries some of these players are expecting are ridiculous. I feel that some of them are in it only for the money and I think the league would be fine without them.”
Williams also was quick to defend a portion of the owners’ argument as well.
“Owners already have a hard time with keeping their teams afloat, especially teams that do not draw much attention,” Williams said.
“Players are more protected than ever before in the history of hockey, but it seems like they just keep wanting more. If they truly loved the game I feel that there should have been no problems with some of the later offers made by the league and its owners.”
Urbaniak argued more in favor of the players.
“I think the owners take more of the blame,” Urbaniak said. “Owners wanted more share of the hockey-related revenue and it’s not fair to the players and especially their fans that a lockout was brought about by the owners’ greed.”
A result of the lockout lasting into the New Year is the loss of almost half a season. Part of the agreement establishes a 48-game season as well as a one-week training camp. A typical hockey season consists of 82 regular season games and three weeks of training camp.
“The schedule for the 48-game season right now is sufficient in my eyes,” Urbaniak said. “There’s no need for a longer training camp if you consider how many of the NHL players played in other leagues in North America and overseas.”
Williams is on the side that many others are on, that any season is better than no season at all.
“Obviously going from an 82 game season down to 48 games is kind of a downer, but I’m just glad the season is going to happen. As far as the training camp length, I suppose the current schedule will suffice,” Williams said. “I just hope the speed of the game doesn’t decrease because of players not having their legs up to par, but a lot of players have been playing in other leagues so it will be interesting to see how the game is affected by the short training camp. I have a feeling that there might not be too much of a difference.”
No official start date has been announced, but if you’re watching as closely as these two students, that information won’t be too far behind.