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NHL Return

An Inside Blog: Anger and Concern About Next NHL Season



NHL season, Pittsburgh Penguins Scotiabank Arena

I’m no longer angry at the coronavirus that strangled our lives and my business, which is dependent on the NHL season, just as it was reaching maturity. After months of a bruising political fight and being shut in my apartment because my favorite little hangouts were full, closed, or out of business, I’m tired. You’re tired.

We’re all a little worse for wear. And it may get worse before it gets better.

As the President of National Hockey Now, I’m working with the writers we’ve assigned to cover the NHL side of things and the writers we’ve assigned to cover the players’ side.

In the past week, my optimism for an NHL season to begin in January has gone from confident to pensive, from assumptive to worried. After speaking with my colleagues, the worry is spreading.

Before even saying hello on our phone chat Thursday night, my colleague who is covering the NHL side for NHN spouted, “What the hell. I’m getting nervous.”

Later today and this weekend, the National Hockey Now family will have a hot-blooded story or two. At my request, the Hockey Now network held back the fiery rhetoric to add more voices from the inside of the NHL’s fight to renegotiate the four-month-old CBA and the players’ fight to have a season and make a living.

The quotes you will see today and this weekend are blunt and raw.

The quotes do not inspire confidence that we will have a 2020-21 NHL season. Not in the least.

If you haven’t been following closely, the NHL’s opening offer to save the 2020-21 NHL season included renegotiating the CBA to include higher salary escrows and additional salary deferrals. The offer elicited immediate anger and resentment from the players.

Players feel betrayed. Used.

Agents spoke on behalf of their men to the National Hockey Now family. More voices are coming forward. For the first time, PHN and its sister sites are working in tandem to bring you the full story.

On the NHL side, there is calm. Reassurance. Our writer on the NHL beat has been reassured there will be a season; no cause for alarm.

Our writer on the NHLPA beat is ready to hit the panic button.

The dichotomy between the NHL and players is startling. Perhaps the NHL will take note of the reports we’ve got coming up.

In my estimation, the players’ shock has not yet worn off. After they saved the NHL’s bacon in July and August by bubbling for the NHL postseason, which meant agreeing to a massive 20% salary escrow for this season, missing their families for months, and living in a fancy prison with coffee shops and movie theaters, they thought they saved the situation.


The owners want or need more.

And I’m the conduit between reporters covering each side of the story. It’s not a pretty scene. I write this blog post as a fair warning of what you will see shortly. I hope cooler heads prevail.

We’ve been through enough in the last nine months. Many of you (and me) may even be alone on Thanksgiving to spare our families additional exposure to this insidious virus.

After brilliant leadership in the spring and summer, now isn’t the time for Gary “Lockout” Bettman to re-emerge. We’ve been through enough, including the players. Hopefully, an equitable solution is around the corner.

Now isn’t the time for posturing but honesty and community, even if tens of millions of dollars are at stake, but we will see, won’t we?