The NHL has been in a lockout for more than two months, and this year’s professional hockey season is at stake since the season will be shorter — if there even is one. ISU club hockey coach Brian Corley shared his position on the lockout with the Daily Vidette.
Q: The NHL lockout has got a lot of fans, as well as players and the NHL ownership, pretty upset. What’s your general opinion on the NHL lockout?
A: Well, it’s an unfortunate circumstance for both the fans and the players, as well as the ownership. The NHL had a good thing going, you know, they’ve had a couple of great seasons and fan interest was higher than it has ever been, and now they’ve gone and shot themselves in the foot again.
Q: Do you think there is anything that could have been done before the season began?
A: I think it was the intention of the owners to get to the point of a lockout. And they’ve done that effectively. So I think the situation was created on purpose in order to strengthen the negotiating position of the owners.
Q: So this didn’t come as much of a surprise to you then?
A: That’s right. We have a relationship with the Chicago Blackhawks, and in August they stopped signing agreements and put everything on hold, so they knew that we would be in this situation.
Q: So what do you think should be done now?
A: Well, both sides seem to think that it enhances their negotiating position, but they’re going to have to come to a compromise. Neither side is going to get everything they want but they need to find a way to get into a compromise position that everybody can live with. But the owners think that they can hold out longer than the players can so they’re not in a hurry to resolve the situation.
Q: How many games do you think would make for a fair season?
A: From the ownership side, you know, they’re prepared to sit out wo years if that’s what it takes to get what they need, so I think
… both sides are very far apart. If they could resolve it by New Years Day, so that the season starts Jan. 1, that would be terrific. After that I think you’re getting to the point where the season is lost. The season is probably lost in its entirety, when you get to about Feb. 1, just as an example, but probably even Jan. 1 really.”
Q: It was probably a bad idea, and especially bad for the fans, to cancel the Winter Classic. Was canceling it any indication the season might be a goner?
A: Well the Winter Classic and the All-Star game are both events that are managed by the NHL, and it’s their responsibility to market those. So that was a message from the NHL owners that they wouldn’t have time, as you’d need at least a two month lead time on that. And so I think it gives you a pretty good indication of their position, that they’re not in a hurry, and that they don’t mind canceling things. They have the financial resources to hold out for two years, and that might be what they’re going to do.
Q: Is there any positive result that can come from the NHL lockout, or is it all negative?
A: You know, there’s really nothing positive when two sides that need to cooperate disagree like that. I think some of the contracts the NHL players have gotten in recent years are out of control — both in terms of the length of the contract and the amount that the players are getting paid. That’s something that is clearly going to be brought under control, and that’s a positive thing. But other than that, the players and the owners just need to split the money 50-50, move on, and not lose the support of the fans. I think if they go past Christmas there could be a lot of fan revolt.