Editorial — There are benefits to a hockey lockout

If there is a lockout, it will give hockey fans more opportunities to see other good hockey, available at a fraction of the price.

There is plenty of talk about the possibility of an NHL lockout this fall. It is likely that at least part of the season may be cancelled.

While many people simply can’t get enough hockey, a lockout could have some benefits — particularly if it merely shortens the season, as opposed to cancelling it altogether.

For starters, the NHL and its players have to get their finances into synch. Players deserve good salaries — they often are only in the league for a few years, and playing hockey in the NHL offers them the best opportunity to be rewarded for their tremendous skills.

At the same time, their salaries must be reasonable enough that the entire league isn’t jeopardized.

The league also has to become more realistic. It’s time to stop operating teams in desert cities where there is little fan interest. The NHL is never going to get a top-tier broadcast deal in the U.S., and it’s time the league realized that.

With no broadcast deal, it makes far more sense to have fewer teams and place them in cities where there is significant fan interest. That’s why it made so much sense for the Atlanta Thrashers to relocate to Winnipeg last fall.

If there is a lockout, it will give hockey fans more opportunities to see some of the other good hockey available at a fraction of the price — Abbotsford Heat in the AHL, Vancouver Giants in the WHL and Langley Rivermen in the BCHL.

They can also check out some of the other sports in the area. Professionally, there are the CFL Lions and MLS Whitecaps, and there are many other good sports teams operating in Langley and throughout the Greater Vancouver area.

Hockey has a symbolic hold on many Canadians, and that isn’t surprising, considering that much of Canada has a cold winter where sports such as hockey can thrive. Even here in B.C., where the weather is milder, minor hockey has grown tremendously and there is lot of interest in the game.

However, the NHL Canucks have become a hard-to-get ticket. Businesses have scooped up many of the season tickets, and it’s hard for the average fan to get to see a game.

While TV coverage of NHL hockey is excellent, there are plenty of other sports to see on television or in person. A lockout may help bring the NHL and players onto the same financial page, and could be good for other teams and sports.

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