TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Hockey fans Nolan Ritchie, Rylan Thiessen, Derek Thiessen and Carter Thiessen watch the Midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings take on the Interlake Lightning at the Sportsplex on Sunday. Most local hockey fans were happy to see a settlement reached in the lockout but they remain frustrated by the long negotiation process.
It was a mixed reaction in hockey rinks across Westman as the NHL and NHLPA announced a tentative collective bargaining agreement had been reached in the early morning hours on Sunday.
Players enjoy a game of shinny at the East End Community Centre on Sunday. Hockey fans awoke Sunday to the news that a deal had been reached to end the NHL lockout. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN )
"We’re happy it’s come to an end," Derek Thiessen said. "We’ve got three kids in hockey that are overjoyed about it."
Last year, Thiessen travelled to the provincial capital to see the Winnipeg Jets in the team’s return since a 15-year absence from the league. The atmosphere, Thiessen said, was electric and awesome and something that all hockey fans should take in, that being said he admits he’s disappointed it took the NHL and NHLPA this long to come to an agreement.
"It’s been frustrating seeing it go on this long," Thiessen said. "I’d like to say I’m going to hold out, but I’ll probably be right back into it, especially with the kids watching it on TV."
The lockout lasted 113 days, finally coming to an end with a marathon negotiation session that lasted about 16 hours. In total, if the league plays a 50-game schedule, more than $1.5 billion in players’ salaries and league revenue will have been lost.
While the battle was over just that, billions of dollars, Thiessen wishes they would have paid more attention to the families that buy tickets and wonders if there will be any residual hostility toward the league now that games will resume by the middle of January.
"It’d be nice if there was some sort of a boycott during the year, where people don’t go to teach them a bit of lesson," Thiessen said.
That sentiment was echoed by Albert Krahn and Cathie Marshall, who were at the Sportsplex to watch the Midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings.
"Who?" Cathie Marshall joked when asked about the end of the lockout, adding that she’s already forgotten about the NHL.
Billionaires fighting millionaires has been a term many fans have used during the lockout as owners and players fought for a piece of the $3.3 billion pie. Marshall said the players need a reality check.
"When hockey players are making more money than doctors and they’re whining — well, they need to get a real job," Marshall said. "The owners are business people and they’re in it to make money and the hockey players are basically their employees."
For his part, Krahn didn’t know who to blame, especially after the NHL essentially broke the union during the last lockout and yet once again the league finds itself in a position where multiple teams are losing money.
"I blame both sides." Krahn said. "I wont be back. We watched a lot of hockey on TV last year and I don’t intend to do it again this year.
"When the Jets came back to Winnipeg last year I was really excited and it was a big deal, but right now I don’t really care. It will probably come back for me, but not right now."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 7, 2013