How the Lockout Loses JOBs
The headline is misleading.
At this point during the CBA negotiations, the impact on players, owners, the fans and employees have been well versed and noted. The headline suggests that this post will focus on the impact on employees that rely on hockey to provide income for their families. It does not. Although I do not want to diminish this impact, I wanted to explore something else I don't think has been discussed. The impact of the lockout on players like Jim O'Brien (JOBs).
This topic can easily be thrown in the "who cares?" pile, but I am not one of those types of fans. I really value the contributions a player like JOB can provide to a team. Even though he's a third or fourth liner, he has enough skill to break through with some important goals for the Sens. He won't score 25 or 30 goals, but his importance shouldn't be devalued. Now, I really don't think his job is in jeopardy, but had the lockout happened last year, I don't think he may make it to the NHL.
This is how I see the life of a tweener hockey player.
For the most part, a player is drafted and thrown into the prospect pool of their respective teams. There are exceptions, but most draftees have a part of their game they need to work on or find their niche to make it to the NHL. JOB crafted himself into a hard-working forechecker that has decent size, good at both ends of the rink and can kill penalties. The reason I don't think he'd be in the NHL had the lockout occurred last year is that he found an opportunity through injuries last year. He was able to come up, play well, and ultimately prove his worth as a full-time NHLer. If the lockout occurred, the Sens depth may have passed him by. He would have been labelled as an AHLer and may never get to play in the NHL with regularity.
I think I can make my point a little clearer with another example - Mike Hoffman.
Now, I've been a fan of this player for awhile. I've watched him in exhibition games in years' past and really loved his skating and offensive skill. I was surprised when I followed him and he eventually was sent down to the East Coast League. He may have deserved it, but I was nevertheless surprised. Is Hoffman an NHL player? I'm hoping he is. I know there are some in the SensChirp community that he has the opportunity to surprise people in training camp. The problem is that he may not get the chance.
This is where the lockout hurts those that are trying to break into the league. These guys are on the verge of proving themselves, but never get the chance. The season may eventually start, but with a team like Ottawa, the window of opportunity is short.
There are prospects that are getting closer and closer to their own opportunities. With a lockout, they have time to pass Hoffman on the depth chart. If their ceiling is higher, a player like Hoffman gets tagged "AHLer" and may find himself on the outside even though he's a capable NHL player. Again, this could fall into the "who cares?" pile, but I think Hoffman has the type of skill set that could surprise people. It's not a guarantee that he achieves his potential, but he needs a chance. It's something he doesn't get with the inevitable looming lockout.
For the discussion board, who else misses their chance?
- For those that missed it last night, I have set up a GM Connected league (Xbox 360) on the recently released NHL 13. Search "SensChirp League" and send a join request and I'll accept them later tonight. Spots will be handed out on a first come, first serve basis so grab a team quickly.