NHL Gives Fans a Double Bonus

NHL Gives Fans a Double Bonus
The NHL has been criticized in the past for its acrimonious labor dealings but in the time when sports fans are looking for a lift, the NHL offered two big ones.
 
Not only is the NHL ready to return with its 24-team expanded playoff format to resume Aug. 1 in two hub cities, Edmonton and Toronto, but a four-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached.
 
While returning to play, albeit in empty arenas was a huge boost to hockey fans, especially during this pandemic, the CBA extension agreement was a major bonus.
 
Considering the history of negotiations between the NHL and NHL Players' Association, this was a huge step forward.
 
The original CBA was to expire in September of 2022. Now the new one ensures that there will be labor peace through the 2025-2026 season.
 
As a comparison, Major League Baseball and the its Player’s Association had contentious negotiations before commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a 60-game season after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement.
 
During negotiations, there was public sniping between the two sides and neither looked good in the MLB dispute. It made things worse when it came during a pandemic and so many people becoming unemployed.
 
The last thing fans wanted to hear was billionaire owners and millionaire players unable to come to an agreement.
 
The NHL, during this pandemic, has seemingly made all the right moves. The league was deliberate in its return plan and there was never any public bickering as they painstakingly negotiated the deal.
 
And then the addition of the CBA, in which both sides reportedly made the needed sacrifices, really puts the NHL in a good light.
 
Of all the leagues to extend an agreement at this time, the NHL appeared to be a longshot. Since 1992, there have been four work stoppages, including the loss of the entire 2004-2005 season.
 
Now the NHL can concentrate on its return to play plan.
 
It will be interesting how the games will appear to viewers without fans, because the NHL playoffs, with their end-to-end intensity are among the great events in sports.
 
What has made the NHL playoffs so special is that there are many teams that indeed have a legitimate shot to win.
 
Just last year, the St. Louis Blues, who finished with the third best record in the Western Conference, emerged as Stanley Cup champions.
 
This year the Flyers have as good a chance as any team to win the Stanley Cup. The Flyers had won nine of their last 10 games heading into the stoppage.

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The Flyers are an up and coming team and should be competing for the Stanley Cup for the foreseeable future. The fact that fans can just concentrate on their development and not have to worry about a work stoppage, sheds an even brighter light on the NHL.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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