The 95th anniversary of the National Hockey League passed without any celebration on Monday, November 26. Maybe if we were in the middle of playing the 95th 94th season (’04-’05 canceled) it would have been different.
The formation of the NHL was announced on November 26, 1917, after the suspension of the National Hockey Association because of a shortage of players (serving in World War I) and disagreements between NHA team owners. The NHL was supposed to be a temporary solution while the NHA problems were being resolved, but resolutions never happened and the NHL became permanent.
Since that time, the league has changed in rules and structure but always seemed to transition fairly smoothly – until recently. Issues between owners and players have been the culprit in recent years, but you could argue that friction among the owners themselves is also a factor. It’s difficult to say exactly how much since they’re so tight-lipped about it (thank you Gary Bettman), but it’s clear that the owners are asking to be saved from themselves and their own aggressive spending.
Four work stoppages in the last 20 years, three of them lockouts, and one completely lost season (with possibly another on the way) sounds like a good enough reason to suspend the NHL in favor of a more competent league. While creating an entirely new hockey association probably isn’t a realistic solution this time, a disposal of the current league that insists on dragging its own name through the mud doesn’t seem like a bad idea to some of us. We could call that our “NHA fantasy”. Then again, many fans still prefer the fantasy where the NHL plays part of the ’12-’13 season.
So for the NHL’s sad 95th anniversary, we offer a toast: Here’s to hoping that hockey survives and one of our fantasies becomes a reality soon!
How has your perception of the NHL changed over the course of recent lockouts?