NHL lockout impacts European leagues

GERMANY – Unless you are living under a rock, you have (like me) been inundated with talk of the NHL lockout. Over the past few weeks, my inbox has been flooded with e-mails from family, friends, fans, and followers of A Day in the Life of a Hockey Wife inquiring about the lockout and how it might affect us. Hashtags like #NHLlockout #NoLockout and #BettmanBlows have consumed my Twitter feed. And of course, recent transactions and the potential trickle-down effect have been the dominating topics of conversation amongst my husband and his teammates, not to mention their wives and girlfriends.
According to Elite Prospects, dozens of NHLers have been making the leap across the pond. But the lockout (and its wrath) still seemed a world away. Most of us laughed when rumors swirled that NHLers were coming here. For various (mostly financial) reasons, the team was already operating two imports short. So how would they insure multimillion dollar contracts? And how would they pay them? When I asked my husband how he felt about players from the NHL coming to Europe, he echoed Sidney Crosby’s sentiments. “I’m a hockey player and it’s a competitive business.” The deluge of NHL players coming to Europe and “taking” jobs certainly adds to job instability and uncertainties for the players and their families. But at that time, no one here was worried about losing their job or being displaced. As the guys drank themselves into a stupor at Oktoberfest in Munich though, the team announced on its official Facebook page that the NHL was indeed coming to our neck of the woods. The guys caught wind of it as they made their way home that night. And just like that, the lockout wasn’t so far away anymore. I didn’t ask how the rest of the guys felt about it, but I am sure there were mixed emotions. Jason Spezza, who recently signed with Rapperswil in Switzerland, told a Toronto radio station that Rapperswil left an import spot open for him, so he wouldn’t be taking someone else’s job. That’s one way of looking at it, I guess. The NHLers who arrived here last week didn’t “take” anyone’s job either, but they did change the lineup and fill the last two available import spots. Spots that would otherwise have been filled by players who are currently at home, waiting for an opportunity to play. Players who, unlike the locked-out NHLers, don’t have the luxury of options. The details of this lockout are lost on me. I don’t fully understand most of it. What I do understand is that it sucks. It sucks for players who committed to play here or there and are now being told to pack their bags because apartment space is tight and room needs to be made for NHLers and AHLers. Sorry, best of luck to you. That’s all they get from their former teams. It sucks for players who committed to play here or there and are now seeing their ice time drastically decrease (along with their chances of scoring) or are simply riding the bench because room in the lineup needs to be made for NHLers and AHLers. It’s a competitive business. That’s all they get from their coaches. It sucks for players who are looking for a job and now stand little to no chance of finding one because teams would, frankly, rather have NHLers and AHLers. Some of whom, at this point, are willing to play for free. And it sucks for the game and the business of hockey. My husband won’t lose his job during this lockout. He probably won’t lose much ice time either. But that is only because he plays on this team, in this situation, with these circumstances. The lockout that seemed so far away has now touched almost every friend we have in this business though, in some way or another. We’ve suffered our fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. I have thrown myself a number of pity parties. But I also learned that to survive this lifestyle, I have to focus on the positive. So I am grateful that my little family is fairly unaffected by this lockout. I am grateful that my husband will keep his job and his spot in the lineup. And I am optimistic that these new players will provide the edge this team desperately needs.
I am also hopeful that the ridiculous increase in ticket and merchandise sales will generate revenue that will allow this team to find replacements if/when they leave. Most of all, I want to believe that this lockout nonsense will be over soon.
Though signings like Giroux and Brière are likely an indication of just how long the players expect this thing to last.
Contact the author at Hockeywife@adayinthelifeofahockeywife.com
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