PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Radek Faksa, 13th overall pick by the Dallas Stars, speaks to media during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
It's a tough time for hockey fans this Monday as we stare into what is an unknown future of the sport we love the most. The NHL is now surging headstrong into its second lockout in seven years, although they'll never actually call it that, and fans across North America and the globe are paying the price because of a disagreement over billions of dollars.
The Dallas Stars is a team that likely wanted nothing to do with a lockout. This is a franchise working hard to repair years of damage created by poor or absent ownership and suddenly, just when things were gaining momentum, the possibility of a significant delay to the season becomes very real. You can see just how much this lockout is frustrating them based on how they're personally reaching out to the fans and offering the highest return on season tickets in the NHL.
I worry, however, that a delay to the season might be too much to overcome -- not just for the Stars, but for the league as a whole. There are those that have written that the fans have no one to blame but themselves for this mess because of how they turned out in droves following the last lockout and helped build the league into what it is today; last time, however, the NHL promised massive changes and growth to the sport itself while this time around -- it's all about the money.
The fans are taking this one personally, justified or not, and the league is certainly going to lose a number of them if this lockout brings a long delay to the season. After having spent so much of their time and money as a fan to help build this league into what it is, here we are again facing what could possibly be a lost season and the absence of a sport so many hold so dear to their hearts. For many, this particular lockout just feels different.
What's interesting is that for me personally, this lockout is a new feeling to me. In 2004 and 2005 I spent an incredible amount of time deployed with the US Navy and for most of that lost season I was overseas in the Persian Gulf. Fair or not, I arrived back in the States just in time to enjoy the return to hockey in 2005-06; I certainly didn't have the personal feelings of loss that so many felt during that locked out season.
We don't know exactly how long this lockout will last. Behind the scenes, we've been told the season will likely start around Thanksgiving or the lockout could last longer than the last one. We've even been told some are expecting an agreement to be reached in time for the regular season to still start on time. For now, we're caught in the middle of a PR battle that is sending mixed signals at best -- from both the NHL and NHLPA -- and for now all we can do is wait.
This is about business and that's all. No amount of boycotting or protesting will change that, which is unfortunate, but that's a fact that fans are going to have to accept. There is a much darker, hidden cost to this lockout -- one which we'll be covering this week -- that is much worse than fans losing a sport they love, and that fact alone makes this lockout seem all the more frustrating and ridiculous.
What about Defending Big D? We'll still be here and we have some exciting plans for the immediate future. Follow the jump to see what's in store...
This lockout has certainly thrown a wrench in our plans for the ramp up to the start of the 2012-13 season but just because the Dallas Stars may not be playing in October -- there's still plenty of hockey to read and write about.
Here's what's you can expect:
- SB Nation United: In the very near future, Defending BIg D and SB Nation will be undergoing an exciting and drastic change. This is not just about the logo but in how our content is presented, something I am personally extremely excited about.
- Detailed Texas Stars coverage: If there is anything to be excited about, at all, is that there are an incredible amount of exciting young prospects playing in Austin this season. Even if this lockout had not happened this would be an incredible year to follow the Texas Stars and with the grown up Stars not playing -- this should be a very, very big year for the team down in Austin. Between Stephen Meserve of Hundred Degree Hockey and our own coverage, there will be plenty to read about the exciting young prospects that are a big part of the future of this organization.
- Expanded prospects coverage: I don't know if anyone remembers but the Stars drafted a few every exciting young players this summer. While a number of prospects have made the jump to the AHL, there's still plenty of other young players to follow throughout the NCAA, juniors and in Europe. Radek Faksa, Matej Stransky, Brett Ritchie and Ludwig Bystrom are just a few of the names we'll be keeping a close eye on this season.
- Continued CBA & NHL Lockout coverage: We've been doing our best to keep everyone up to speed on the CBA negotiations and that won't change now that he lockout has actually happened. The hope, of course, is that news of negotiations and talks don't slow down as much as some might fear and that very soon we'll be talking about the two sides working towards an agreement.
We'll also be covering the Allen Americans and Texas Tornado once more this season, and quite possibly the Idaho Steelheads. While the Dallas Stars might not be playing, there is still plenty of hockey to write about and cover moving forward.
If there is anything else that you would like for us to cover, let us know in the comments or by email. T
he season may not start on time but this is still an exciting time for Defending Big D as we move into the future of SB Nation and continue to expand our coverage of hockey in Texas and beyond.