Effects of the lockout
A Canadian public opinion poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid near the start of the lockout found that 52 percent of those polled blamed NHL players for the lockout and only 21 percent blamed the owners of NHL teams. This may have been due to the fact that the NHL put much more effort into the public relations war than did the NHLPA, leading to a large amount of one-sided public feeling on the issue. The NHLPA did not change its position despite public opinion against them and reiterated that irresponsible big market NHL owners were to blame for driving up salaries. However, many doubt the sincerity of the NHLPA since union leaders desired a system that allows big market owners to do exactly that.
The loss of the 2004-05 season meant that there were no results on which to base the order of the 2005 entry draft. The league settled on a lottery system in which all teams had a weighted chance at the first pick, expected to be Sidney Crosby , dubbed "The Next One" in reference to Wayne Gretzky 's nickname "The Great One". The lottery was tilted so teams with fewer positive results over the past five seasons had a better chance of landing higher picks. The complete order was determined by the lottery, and the 2005 draft was conducted in a "snake" style, meaning in even rounds, the draft order is reversed. This system was an attempt to compromise between those who felt all teams should have had an equal chance at the first pick and those who felt only the weaker teams should have been in the running.
To ease the transition to the salary cap, teams were allowed one week to buy out players at two-thirds the cost of their remaining contract, which would not count against the salary cap. Bought out players could not re-sign with the same team.
Effect on NHLPA
NHLPA Executive Director and General Counsel Bob Goodenow, seen by many as the strongest villain in the lockout due to his hardline stance against a salary cap (something he eventually accepted), resigned from his position on July 28 , 2005 after criticism from many of his constituents. He was replaced by Ted Saskin, formerly senior director of business affairs and licensing for the NHLPA.
Effect on other leagues
The majority of players who agreed to play in other professional hockey leagues were playing in Europe . During 2004-05 season 388 NHL players played in European leagues. The most popular countries were Russia , with 78 NHL players, Sweden , with 75 NHL players, and the Czech Republic , with 51 NHL players. Russian Elite league team AK Bars , Kazan signed 11 NHL players, including Ilya Kovalchuk and Vincent Lecavalier . Pavel Datsyuk played for Dynamo Moscow . Czech superstar Jaromir Jagr played for Avangard Omsk . Other Czech players returned to the Czech Republic , including Milan Hejduk , Martin Straka , Ales Hemsky and Martin Rucinsky . Canadians Joe Thornton and Rick Nash signed with HC Davos of the Swiss league. Swedish superstar Peter Forsberg returned to his original club, MODO Hockey , in a move that he had planned before the lockout. Several other Swedes, including Daniel and Henrik Sedin , joined Forsberg at MODO; still others joined other Elitserien sides. Most of the NHL players playing for European clubs had contract clauses allowing them to leave for the NHL once the lockout ended.
Some players stayed in the United States and Canada, notably Chris Chelios , who played in the United Hockey League .
There were two attempts to form alternative professional leagues in North America during the lockout, but both appear to have failed.
The new World Hockey Association had been planned since 2002 and was to start play shortly after the lockout was expected to begin. Despite having former WHA star Bobby Hull as commissioner, however, the league never got off the ground. A lack of stable financing undermined plans to sign both locked-out players and top prospects such as Sidney Crosby .
Another league, the Original Stars Hockey League (OSHL), had been established in Canada and was expected to play four-on-four exhibitions games in various Canadian cities, until the lockout was settled. More than 100 players, including Dominik Hasek , signed up to play in the OSHL. However, escalating salary demands by players quickly bankrupted the OSHL after a few exhibition games. The league did not play any further games.
NHL players looking for a place to play clearly preferred stable, established European clubs to upstart leagues that have since been derisively dubbed as " fly-by-night " operations by their critics. A small number of players played for established minor league teams, with the ECHL benefitting the most, with hometown and family being the most important representation, while others chose to repay the league which gave them a start by returning. Scott Gomez played for his hometown team, the Alaska Aces and won the ECHL's Most Valuable Player award, while Curtis Brown , whose wife is a native of Southern California, played for the San Diego Gulls , and later in the season, Bates Battaglia joined his younger brother Anthony on the Mississippi Sea Wolves roster, even playing on the same line.
A pair of Nashville Predators teammates, Shane Hnidy and Jeremy Stevenson , both of whom had early careers in the ECHL , returned to the league as a sign of thanks, and found themselves playing against each other in the first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs, as Hnidy's Florida Everblades faced Stevenson's South Carolina Stingrays in the American Conference quarterfinals.
Ironically, in the Kelly Cup playoffs, Gomez was very disappointed with his injury in a first-round game against the Bakersfield Condors , as the Aces would face the Trenton Titans in the National Conference Finals. Gomez's disappointment came because he wanted to play in front of fans in New Jersey and thank them for supporting the ECHL, and also the lack of opportunity in facing Hnidy again. The Everblades lost to Trenton in the Kelly Cup Finals, which gave the Philadelphia Flyers minor league system a clean sweep of professional hockey's two major championships.
In addition, many younger players who could be impact players on their NHL rosters stayed down in the American Hockey League for a full season, changing the aspect of that league's entire season. A record crowd of 20,103 fans packed the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia for Game 4 of the Calder Cup finals between the Philadelphia Phantoms and Rosemont's Chicago Wolves . The Wolves, Rochester Americans , Manitoba Moose , Hamilton Bulldogs , and Bridgeport Sound Tigers (owned by the New York Islanders ) each saw attendance figures increase over ten percent from 2003-04 in the AHL, with the Moose average attendance soaring 24.09% from the previous year.
In the ECHL, the Gwinnett Gladiators , San Diego Gulls , Bakersfield Condors , and Charlotte Checkers also saw similar gains, with the Atlanta Thrashers -affiliated Gladiators receiving a gain of over 20% in attendance from the previous year. Many teams in the west gained considerable when they played against Alaska, mainly as hockey-starved fans enjoyed watching Gomez play in their hometown.
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