Everyone seems to be writing about the logistics of the pending lockout, instead of adding another layer onto that cake, I have decided to take a different approach. I want to talk about what I believe certain teams and fans will be missing out on if a decision has not been made by September 15th. Obviously the lockout in general would be a huge blow to the game of hockey, which is at an all time high right now. At a base level there is so much more exposure and it is very easy to watch your favorite teams play without a package from your cable provider. NBC and NBC Sports has been unbelievable and NHL 36 was a great new addition for fans to get insight into players lives. Along with exposure also came big shifts during the off-season, some of the leagues best players have relocated, drastically change the dynamic of those teams.
I will get the ball rolling with the Kings and what the lockout means for them. This past season the Los Angeles Kings did what no one thought they could do, win the Stanley Cup. What they did in my opinion is one of the most important moments in the history of hockey, you might be calling me crazy today and a genius in 10 years, so just hear me out. Los Angeles sports has been dominated by the Lakers for way to many years, even The Great One couldn’t get the Cup in LA. Instead the 8 seed defies the odds and brings the Cup to LA and with it ignites a spark under a brand new demographic of west coast fans. There is a melting pot of hockey fans from all over the US that have relocated to LA, that have now become Kings fans for obvious reasons. This Kings team finally gave hockey fans in LA something to cheer about. If there is a lockout, I truly believe that the spark and credibility they have going into this season will be lost. Like my colleague pointed out the Lakers made big moves and look to take back the spotlight. It’s important that the Kings get the opportunity to flourish while still riding this wave of increased attention.
Another team with increased attention and spotlight in the NHL are the Minnesota Wild, gaining not one but two superstars in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. This deal not only benefits the Wild, but the league as well, Minnesota spits out a ton of hockey players each year, it is important that they make a statement in the league. The anticipation for fans in Minnesota is at an all time high, the lockout would put a severe damper on that. These in my opinion are the two teams fans and franchise wise that would really take a hit if there were to be a lockout for the 2012-2013 season.
Other exciting things for the game of hockey that would be postponed: Rick Nash’s first game as a Ranger, Sidney Crosby’s first full season back, a young group of 1st round draft picks in Edmonton chomping at the bit to get back on top, and an eager Flyers squad looking for redemption after a sub par playoff performance. The list goes on and on actually, but the problem is these are things that are exciting for the game right now, they will not be exciting a year from now.
So let’s hope come September we are picking apart preseason camps instead of crying in our basements.