Players Behind Bars The National Hockey League (NHL) has a great history. Many think the 'original six' was the beginning. This is not so. In 1917 it consisted of five teams, namely the Montreal Canadians, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs and the Toronto Arenas.

Toronto was the only team with artificial ice. During the 1923-24 seasons a franchise was granted to the first American team, the Boston Bruins. As can be seen the first six team NHL occurred in 1924-5 but varied greatly from the six teams promoted today as the original six. In the 80 years since the original six teams were in place, the league has grown extremely rapidly, presently having 30 teams.

[NHL History]Hockey is the Canadian game, but has also turned into a profitable business. The current commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, may have ruined the league for years to come. Bettman and the rest of the NHL owners are locking out the players demanding what they are calling 'cost certainty.' Their method for this is a salary cap. The owners are clearly at fault for the crisis at hand, and are the cause for the cancellation of the 2004-05 seasons.

The owners caused each and every one of the problems they now wish to solve; they were not very welcoming to negotiations, and were not willing to bend from their unreasonable proposition of a 'hard cap'. The owners have been the masters of their own demise. The New York Rangers, in the last few years have had an incredible pay role. Who is it that is trying to buy a winning team, by tripling salaries? Not the players - the Rangers owners. Consistently as the league grew from the original six to the thirty teams there are now, the salaries of the players grew with it. The owners did not buy franchises for the love of the game, but to make money.

To make money the team must win. Owners have been constantly spending more money to buy their players. The players dedicate their lives to the sport, are constantly on the road, and sacrifice their bodies for the game. The player's goals are to be the best that they can be.

Did the players make the contracts? No - the only wrong they have committed was signing the dotted line on the bottom. The owners then take this action against the players to try to protect themselves from their own check books. [Lockout] The NHL players association made the first offer to start the season. At this time the players offered to take a large pay cut of twenty-four percent.

This was a considerable amount of money. It was a substantial first offer, one which the Players Association (PA) wished could be built upon through negotiations, and a settlement made. Other than the owners clear rigidity, they appeared to be reluctant to come to any type of reconciliation. Once again the owners fell back upon their need for so called "Cost certainty." If they want to conclude this dilemma, they would have to strike a deal with the players. Why did the players always have to initiate all talks? Why weren't the cash strapped millionaire owners, able to step up and negotiate? Also all of the budgets the NHL owners association put forth were unreliable, and the owners would not back them up with hard evidence. They are based solely on pre-emotive presumptions, and numbers that were nothing but estimations.

A hard cap at forty million might deflate salaries to an extent, but they would also have teams like the dreaded Leafs, Detroit, New York and Philadelphia just earning money hand over fist while the small market teams still struggle away. This would not solve the so called problem the owners say they wish to solve; all it would do is increase the profits the owners go home with at the end of the night. The owners stood fast in their plan, with the idea that if neither side would bend, one would snap. They believed that the players would be the ones to crumble in their stand. It appears that both sides are at a standoff. From the looks of it, it will take some time for either side, to even show signs of breaking.

The owners are clearly at fault for the crisis at hand, and are the cause for the cancellation of the 2004-05 seasons. The owners have clearly caused the faults in the League that they now seem to have a lack of inspiration to solve; they were not very welcoming to negotiations, and were not willing to bend from their unreasonable proposition of a hard cap. Why does the world have to spin on profits? Whatever happened to doing something for the love of the game? The players are willing, but the owners are blinded by the great green dollar sign. In truth everyone involved in sports today are not only there for the game but also for the money they can get out of it.

Fans are the only people in sports who are not in it for the money. Broadcasters, sportswriters, ticket-scalpers, beer vendors and everyone else have a financial stake in the game. Fans show up hoping to see their team win. The players just ask for what is fair, now lets not let the owners wipe away their mistakes and many players careers, and lives so easily.