Sunday, September 16, 2012
By Jessi Pierce
The inevitable became a reality at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 16.
Hockey fans will be without a professional season — or at least a delayed start — for the second time in eight years with the NHLPA and NHL owners not agreeing to terms for a CBA.
Before I go off on a tangent about the frustrations of losing another season of the professional sport that has to work so hard to gain the attention of fans in the first place, I will start by stating the obvious:
It sucks for the sport of hockey, and mostly it sucks for its fans.
Locking the doors to professional teams and a season of course always begs the question: Will it help enhance the college hockey season as fan focus shifts to the collegiate level in attempts to quench their thirst for the game that was taken away for the year?
I have always been a devout college hockey fan, especially in the years when the state of hockey had no pro team and where the Gophers have always reigned as "Minnesota's Pride On Ice." We already saw NBC Sports Network release a beefed up college hockey schedule for this year as the lockout loomed. The programming will include 24 match-ups — including Wisconsin and Michigan State games — beginning in October in an effort to alleviate TV scheduling lost from an undetermined amount of a missing NHL season.
Yes, that's pretty great for college hockey, and hockey in general, to add more exposure in a season starting in professional turmoil. And on a broad scale, I do think that in areas where an NHL team is based, college games might have a few more seats filled.
Add in the fact that the allure of the NHL to players who might be more likely to jump ship in favor of a signing bonus is now tainted, sure, the NHL lockout has some bright spots in college hockey.
BUT...in the grand scheme of the whole mess, while I would love to see everyone hop on the bandwagon of college hockey for this season, the truth is, the lockout is terrible for the sport overall.
It's a blatant disrespect for fans. Fans whose money is being fought over. Fans who love the game and shell out ticket, merchandise and concession money year after year wanting nothing more than to see and experience the game they love.
How long will the NHL and player's union hold out? In my opinion, probably not the entire 2012-13 season, and it will be a welcome relief when the college teams take to the ice on time in October.
So what do you guys think? In your minds, how will this lockout affect NCAA hockey and the sport beyond this year? Comment, Tweet (@B1GIceHockey) or email us at B1gIceHockey@gmail.com.
Let's hear it!