1995: NHL lockout ends after 103 days
It's always about the money. The big business of professional sports has meant frequent battles between players and owners for a piece of the multimillion-dollar pie. The 2004 hockey lockout was the first in a decade, but over the years sports labour disputes have plagued professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey — resulting in shortened seasons and furious fans.
• On Jan. 11, 1995, with a deadline that would have wiped out the entire season fast approaching, an agreement was reached.
• The National Hockey League Players' Association and team owners agreed to play a shortened season of 48 games -- the shortest in 53 years, and with no inter-conference games. (The 1995 collective agreement set a regular season at 82 games, down from 84 in the previous agreement.)
• The lockout had lasted 103 days and caused 468 games to be cancelled. Play resumed on Jan. 20.
• In 1993-94 the average salary of an NHL player was $572,000 -- double the average just five years earlier.
• That season, 75 players (out of more than 500) made $1 million or more per season, up from three such players in 1988-89.
• Both sides gave up something to reach the settlement. NHL owners withdrew their proposal for a salary tax. The players allowed a salary cap for rookies, but won unrestricted free agency for players age 32 and over (very few players had careers long enough to take advantage of it). Owners believed these provisions would keep player salaries in check.
• "Free agency" is the ability of players to sell their services on an open market. After their contracts with a team expire, free agents have the freedom to sign on with the highest bidder.
• Of the 26 team owners, 19 voted in favour of the players' offer while seven strongly opposed it. The opponents, characterized as "hawks," felt the point of the lockout was to limit player salaries and link them with revenues, and this had not been achieved.
• For its part, the NHL soon launched a promotional campaign aimed at luring back angered fans. The campaign's slogan was "Game On." League attendance returned to previous levels, and continued to grow.
• The 1994-95 lockout came on the heels of a milestone hockey strike just two years earlier. Players walked out on April 1, 1992, interrupting the race for the Stanley Cup. The dispute, focusing on salaries, free agency and licensing player images, was the first in the league's 75 years. After several days of negotiations, including a final marathon session, the impasse was resolved on April 10. Thirty games were postponed because of the strike.
• The most devastating professional hockey labour dispute came in 2004-05. The main issue was the league's proposal of a controversial salary cap, which was firmly rejected by the players' union. After five months of very public labour negotiations, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cancelled the season. The NHL became the only major North American professional sports league in history to lose an entire season to a labour dispute. It was the first time since 1919 that the Stanley Cup was not awarded.
Also on January 20:
1850: Captain Robert McClure sails from Britain to search for survivors of the Franklin Expedition in the Canadian Arctic. He eventually discovers the Northwest Passage.
1892: The first game of basketball is played at the YMCA college in Springfield, Massachusetts. The rules are devised by Canadian-born teacher James Naismith.
1989: Imperial Oil agrees to buy Texaco Canada for nearly $5 billion.
1995: Roger Warren is convicted of nine counts of second-degree murder in a 1992 bombing incident during a violent strike at the Giant gold mine in Yellowknife.
Program: Prime Time News
Broadcast Date: Jan. 20, 1995
Guest(s): Theoren Fleury, Michael Hearn, Keith Tkachuk
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Reg Sherren
Last updated: June 19, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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