And so it begins

At a press conference today, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed what we all knew was coming: as of midnight today, the NHL has locked out the players' association, thus putting training camp and the 2004-2005 season on hold. I won't bother wasting space arguing which side is right and which side is wrong for whatever reason, because that's been done to death. The truth is both sides of the argument (as usually is the case) are filled with assholes who did little to avoid this scenario.

The real shame in all of this is that the NHL and its players are coming off of a fantastic and exciting NHL season and World Cup tournament, with record TV ratings in Canada. This is the third strike in NHL history, with the last one shortening the 94-95 season. The result of that strike was the disasterous collective bargaining agreement that lasted until now. With apparent record losses on behald of the NHL team owners, it's evident that the owners and the NHL are in no rush to budge in negotiations with the NHLPA.

This anticipated development is the sour note that caps off a fantastic year for the Lightning. With Vinny Lecavalier named the MVP of the World Cup of Hockey following Canada's victory in the tournament Tuesday night, the Lightning can add that to their list of trophies this year, including the MVP of the regular season of the NHL (Marty St. Louis) and the MVP of the playoffs (Brad Richards), not to mention the coach of the year honor for John Tortorella. Talk about a full trophy case.

But now the Bolts will be forced to wait for the puck to drop in the first game of the season until they can hoist their championship banner in the St. Pete Times Forum. The team's thousands of brand new season ticket holders will be forced to collect their money back and will probably lose their passing interest in the sport of hockey. And hockey fanatics such as myself will be forced to sit and wait for if and when.

But if there's one good piece of news out of all of this, it means that the Cup will remain uncontested in Tampa for a bit longer. As much as I hate to say this... I hope not too much longer.

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2003 - 2005
Reverend Hughes