Free Agency. That period of your career, where if you are good enough, or find a GM dumb enough, you could score yourself a pretty sweet contract. But this comes with a warning, you may not even get a contract at all. In fact, there are players out there right now, who most people thought would have received day one, and yet, still sit un-signed without a team.
It was. I assure you. I know it may not seem like it, and that people predict it will kill hockey in the United States. But, the lockout may not have benefited the NHL as much as a full season may have, the lockout allowed players to play elsewhere. Where else would Joe Thornton, Patrick Kane and Loui Eriksson play in the same team, if it wasn’t for the lockout? Speaking of which, here is just a small example of where the lockout was actually beneficial.
The Spengler Cup is an invitational tournament played in Davos, Switzerland every year, and normally contains European hockey powerhouses, and Team Canada, which is mostly made up of European-based Canadians. However, this year’s edition of the Spengler Cup was a little different. For starters, Team Canada was stacked this year. The biggest name competing for Team Canada in 2011 was former NHL Goaltender Marty Turco, with only three other players currently playing outside of Europe. However, thanks to the NHL Lockout, Team Canada was able to select from those locked out, then playing for teams in Europe, as well as the four outside Europe selections. It wasn’t just Team Canada that benefited, with other teams competing in the Spengler Cup, being able to include NHL-based stars playing in Europe as well, allowing for stronger lineups, and including names familiar to the viewing public, due to them playing in the National Hockey League pre-lockout.
IIHF WORLD U20 CHAMPIONSHIP
Ah yes, the World Juniors. Where the brightest and best up-and-coming stars of the world of hockey come together to compete for their country, usually made up of the best young prospects that will be the names called out in the next NHL draft. This season was different however, this season, the NHL was locked out. Which meant that the best juniors currently applying their trade for an NHL team could compete for their country if they so chose to, allowing the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to be available for Team Canada, and Nail Yakupov for Team Russia as opposed to being on the ice for the Edmonton Oilers. Every country competing had at least one player currently on an NHL roster, and not having those players, quite possibly would’ve led to a completely different result than what actually happened. Who knows, Canada may have actually won a medal!
THE CASUAL VIEWER
No casual viewer of any sport wants to sit down for an entire 82-game season, as chances are they’ll be bored inside the first 20 games and not watch the season out. But, this season is a shortened season, maybe 50 games maximum, and the casual viewer may tune in for the first 20 or so games, but rather than being 60 left.. there’s only going to be 20 or so left, which could very well mean that the casual viewer may be more intrigued as divisions will be tighter, the playoffs will loom, players will be fresher, and hockey will thrive again. Even ESPN are dragging Barry Melrose out of cotton wool, and called it ‘the top story of the day’. When ESPN start caring about hockey, you know it’s getting serious.
There is just a sample of what having a lockout actually improved. The lockout wasn’t all bad, but now that’s it’s back, don’t ever leave again. Lockouts are bad bad things.