NHL players are no stranger to going on strike. They might get to play the game they have loved as children, and get paid handsomely for it, but that doesn’t mean they are thrilled with the NHL. In the past 27 seasons, players have gone on strike four times. We’re looking at why it happens so frequently and what happens when it does.
Where it all began
The first strike in the NHL began on April 1, 1992. It was initiated by the National Hockey League Players’ Association after the players felt there wasn’t enough money coming their way. One of the main issues players had was with trading cards, and how they were not making the money they felt they should from their likenesses being used. Play in the league had been suspended until the players were satisfied. After ten days an agreement was reached and the season, which had been suspended, was free to resume.
Moving to lockout
On October 1, 1994, NHL players again refused to take to the ice, this time their concerns were about the salary cap. Franchise owners were in favor of implementing a cap while players were firmly against it. Both sides were not budging, and the lockout, as it became known, lasted three months.
When terms were finally agreed on salary caps, free agencies, and new franchises, the season resumed but was significantly shortened. Only 48 games were played in the regular season that year, robbing fans of more action.
The entire NHL season was canceled in 2004-2005. Players were being asked to agree to contracts that would see them earn money based on team revenues. This seemed like too much of a gamble and the players revolted.
Pay was the big contention, and it took an entire year for the dispute to end. Finally, players and NHL teams agreed on terms. A salary floor was put into place to ensure that players on the lowest contracts would still receive fair pay while top stars were happy with their deal.
Most recent issues
The last NHL lockout came in the 2012-13 season. Once again players and franchises couldn’t agree terms on salary caps and bonus percentages. Originally the entire season had been written off, but an agreement was found and the season began with a shortened 48-game schedule. A collective bargaining agreement was agreed at the end of this lockout which prevented further strikes. That agreement is due to run out in 2020, so time will tell whether players decide to strike in the future again.
Unfortunately, lockouts in hockey are all too common. Fans are the ones who miss out the most as they just want to watch their favorite teams playing the sport they love. The players want to get paid a fair wage, but the cost of going on strike might be affecting their earning power by forcing the action to stop. Teams and the league need to make sure to pay the players what they are worth to prevent these from happening time and time again.