By Susan Lulgjuraj | Beckett Hockey Editor
Eight years ago, the NHL had an unprecedented season – one that didn’t happen.
After the NHL and NHLPA couldn’t come to terms for a new collective bargaining agreement, the NHL had a lockout that resulted in a cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season and the Stanley Cup was not given out for the first time since 1919.
It could happen again.
The two sides are negotiating for a new CBA once again. If a decision isn’t reached by Sept. 15, when the current agreement ends, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said there could be another lockout. However, the two sides plan to meet again on Wednesday to discuss the latest offering from the NHL Players Association, according to TSN in Canada.
When the lockout occurred eight years ago, hockey fans were not happy. They are a rabid bunch who follow their sport passionately. Hockey card collectors are no different.
They were disappointed in not having a season, but cards helped.
“If anything, it helped eased the pain of not having an NHL season by allowing me to have some presence of hockey in my life by collecting the cards,” collector Andy Sikorski said.
For others, the lockout made collectors examine their habits. Collector Rich Brassell stopped buying hobby boxes and chasing sets. He turned his collection around to focus on his favorite team, the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I basically took the year off of buying new cards and it gave me the chance to change the way I collected,” Brassell said. “The lockout didn’t do much to deter me from finding cards on eBay through box breakers. Most of the cards were low dollar cards anyway and I had plenty of holes from previous years.”
When hockey finally came back, the 2005-06 proved a popular one for the hobby. It was helped by a loaded rookie class: Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik Lundqvist, Mike Richards, Zach Parise and Dion Phaneuf.
But will the same happen again if there is another lockout?
Unlike Crosby, who was well-known even before he started playing in the NHL, many of the upcoming rookies don’t have the same popularity.
“The only fear I have with this lockout is that the rookie class this year won’t be able to carry the products through the down time,” collector Steve Uhlmann said. “I have a feeling it will take some time for hockey fans in the U.S. to learn about the new guys for ’12-’13 and until they start playing games, it will be very tough to do so.”
The good news is collectors feel the hobby rebounded well since the last lockout with better designs and products.
“The overall design and quality of the cards is far better than before 2005,” Sikorski said. “I do not feel the lockout had anything to do with it though, the hobby always evolves and a change has been coming down the pipe for awhile now.”