The issue of a lockout or a shortened season is becoming more and more a probability rather than a possibility. The issue, as with any business and it’s employees, is primarily about money and how to better divide the plunder. If a work stoppage happens, as both sides are still far from hashing things out, it’ll be another black eye to a league who suffered an entire season lost to the back-and-forth of the CBA negotiations just under eight years ago.
But it’s not about the players and the exuberant salaries and revenue that the league owners and players make, sometimes we need to take a step back and focus on the trickle down of what a work stoppage for an NHL team can do to those not in the hallowed lights and glowing Megatron high-definition display. Sometimes it’s the little people that lose the most.
The first image that comes to my mind about a work stoppage is the people who attend the Predators, mainly their staff. The first person I thought of was Craig “Partner” Baugh. If anyone’s ever gone to a practice at Centennial, then chances are you have been privy to one of the biggest-hearted people I have ever met. “Partner” is the locker room attendant for the Nashville Predators, but on game days he is the attendant for the opposing team. It is nothing to see players such as Joe Thornton seek out Partner for a hug and a handshake while securing their gear. But what happens if there are no game days? Training camp? Practice sessions? These are all opportunities for Partner to get additional work that would be lost if a lock-out or work stoppage til Thanksgiving or even the Winter Classic occur.
What about downtown?
Nashville has it’s fair share of tourist destinations for out-of-towners to ogle at like the Ryman, Country Music Hall of Fame, the Frist Center and many more historic and legendary spots dotting the landscape next to the Cumberland, but the draw of a weeknight game and the frequency of the Predators schedule is depended upon by many businesses right next to the arena.
Some of the businesses downtown are already struggling with the impassable roads and looming construction projects that are nearing completion. A ton of parking was done away with while the new convention center is being built and the Titans only pull out the crowds 8 times a year (10 if you include pre-season and usually all on Sunday). So what happens to Rippy’s? Paradise Park? All the honky-tonks and dive bars around Broadway and 4th that are havens for Predator fans both pre-game and post-game will suffer.
Lastly, the fans will be hurt once again.
The Nashville Predators have endeared themselves since the last lockout to the City of Nashville. Their record and post-season eligibility has been in the tops of the league and the fans have come out in droves to support the Original Professional Sports Franchise in Tennessee. This ground-swell of support has momentum written all over it, from making it to the second round of the playoffs two years in a row to defeating the arch-rival Red Wings to get there this season. All of this could come to a grinding halt on September 15th if a new CBA is not worked out and signed by both sides.
Sure, some markets will not have problems, other markets similar to Nashville may have strenuous times ahead but could still come out in the black, but what about already struggling markets like Phoenix, Florida, Colorado and Dallas? Can these teams and their fan-bases survive another lockout or a shortened season?
Maybe a bigger question that hits closer to home…can the Predators afford to lose any revenue on lost games after matching the offer sheet for Weber?
What say you Predator fans? Are you ever maddening with all the CBA back-and-forth? How do you think Nashville would fair if there was a shortened season?