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Looming NHL 2020 Lockout Would Do Irreversible Damage to the Sport of Hockey

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 27: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference prior to Game One of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden on May 27, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It would appear Gary Bettman and Co. didn't learn from the 2004-05 labor dispute that nearly cost the NHL its status as a 'Core Four' North American sport.

Just 15 years later, and here we are again, with a looming 2020 work stoppage and both sides seemingly willing to continue their unthinkable forward progression towards a work stoppage. The deadline for the NHL and NHLPA to choose to opt out of their current CBA in 2020 is Sept. 15, and both organizations are lukewarm on the deal, and it's understandable why.

Per the Chicago Tribune, the NHL has reached over $5 billion in total revenue, a huge increase from just $437 million in 1993. This includes a big TV contract with NBC which has worked out quite nicely for the league and its teams, regularly featuring some of the best talents the NHL has to offer. So what's not to love?

Despite franchise valuation increase, NHL owners will always assume they can make more money (and they're right). Meanwhile, players have every right to assume they're not receiving a fare share of the earnings. Just one look at the contracts in either the MLB, NBA or even NFL will tell them all they need to know about proper revenue sharing, and how to scare owners of a work stoppage to receive what they covet.

The game's biggest stars have long prepared for another work stoppage. In fact, it's even built into Connor McDavid's contract, guaranteeing himself some early payment just in case.

"Both parties have kind of prepared so long for it," McDavid said. "I genuinely believe that both sides want to keep playing. We want to play and the owners want to keep making money."

The fans, meanwhile, are terrified of another year without hockey, and having to justify why they continue to support a league which would have had two vacated seasons in the span of 20 years.