At 12:01 this morning, the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement signed by the NHL Owners and the NHL Players Association expired, effectively putting the 2012-2013 NHL season into question.
But what does the lockout mean for the New York Rangers? After a very successful 2011-2012 season, where they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals and were only two games away from a Stanley Cup Finals appearance, the Rangers know they have a working team. Known for their gritty, down-and-dirty hockey style, they were just missing one thing: a top six forward. In mid-July, Rangers GM Glen Sather was able to make it happen. In the blockbuster trade of the summer, the Rangers traded homegrown players Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov along with highly rated Ranger’s prospect Tim Erixon and a 2013 first round draft pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for NHL and Olympic super star Rick Nash. The team, the coaches and especially the fans were abuzz for the 2012-2013 season to begin, as they have everything they need to go all the way this season. But now, not even two months after their big acquisition, this lockout takes away all of their hope.
However, let’s not lose all hope, in some ways a shortened season would help the Rangers, especially in the case of All-Star MVP right-winger Marian Gaborik, who last June had extensive surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder. It has been reported that he is doing much better, already able to skate and practice lightly, but the extra time would put him right back into the action, which would be highly beneficial. Also, with the Ranger’s style of play, the team tends to get a little burnt out and with less games, the team would hopefully be able to sustain their energy throughout the entire post season. Still, this lockout does have one huge major disadvantage for the Rangers: Rick Nash. Nash will not have much time to gain chemistry with his line-mates or learn how to play with the rough and tumble Rangers. Overall, for any team, being about to play hockey is always better than not playing at all.
Yesterday, protests were held at different venues all around the United States and Canada. Fans are angry, they want hockey played and need someone to blame. Both the League and the NHLPA have begun to pander to the fans, trying to gain support. This morning the NHL released a statement on their website stating that “The League, the Clubs and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans,” while the NHLPA released a YouTube Video with testimonies from players. The only thing both sides seem to agree on is that the biggest group affected by the lockout is the millions of hockey fans. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be enough, as, at least for now, there is no end of the lockout in sight.