Labor History in 2:00

September 16 - NHL Management Locks Out Its Players

September 16, 2020

September 16, 2016

On this day in Labor History the year was 2004. 

That was not a good day for hockey fans. 

The National Hockey League owners locked out the players. 

The owners and players’ union could not come to an agreement on issues including pay, free agency rules and drug testing. 

League owners also wanted to implement a salary cap. 

The Players’ Association objected. 

The first game of the season was supposed to take place on October 13th

But across the country, the arenas stood silent.

As the impasse dragged on, in February the League announced the season was cancelled.  

The Associated Press reported, A hockey season on the brink is now a season gone bust. The NHL canceled what was left of its decimated schedule Wednesday after a round of last-gasp negotiations failed to resolvedifferences over a salary cap -- the flash-point issue that led to a lockout.”

The article continued, “No Stanley Cup champion will be crowned, the first time that's happened since 1919, when the 2-year-old league called off the finals because of a flu epidemic.”

It was the first time that a North American professional sports league lost a full season to a labor dispute.

Some of the players found work in the European leagues at greatly reduced pay. 

It is estimated the league lost $2 billion and that the players lost $1 billion in salaries.  

The impact of the lock out rippled through restaurants and other businesses that relied on the hockey crowds, causing layoffs for wait staff.

Finally, in July an agreement was reached. 

The players gave in to the owners demand for a salary cap. 

In 2012 another lockout by management cost NHL players another half of the season.


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