The cancellation of regular season games has begun. The negotiations are beginning to look like a competition of will power that no one wants to lose. The owners feel that in light of the success of the NHL, they are giving too much of the revenue to the players. The players want the revenue to be distributed more evenly among the teams and are not willing to take an immediate profuse reduction. And the players are determined and united. This failure by the ice hockey league to produce ice hockey games gives the NHL the look of an amateur league still trying to get the basic operational aspects ironed out.
These are unwelcome developments to a vast group of people whose work, passion, or livelihood are directly associated to the hockey games. New Jersey politicians expressed to the NHL their concern for the impact on the economy, particularly in Newark. And now the question is how far will this go. The Winter Classic is scheduled for New Years Day. If that game were to be cancelled, the entire season would likely be lost. The call to cancel the Classic would come well before December. These next couple of weeks need to produce a solution. The sides will meet again this week to try to encourage each other to present a new proposal and move the talks along.
There is still hockey in Newark. That has been the case since before the New Jersey Devils came to town thanks to coaches Keith Veltre and Dennis Ruppe. Leading the state’s only urban high school ice hockey program, they have guided the sport to prominence among youth in Newark. Their passion has lead the East Side High School Red Raiders, then the Newark Americans travel team, and now an entire recreational youth ice hockey league beginning this winter. The high school hockey season begins November 15th.
On Saturday November 3 at 10:00AM, the Ironbound Recreation Center at 226 Rome Street will celebrate the grand reopening of the ice hockey rink. Scheduled to be on hand at this event will be Mayor Cory Booker, former New Jersey Devils players Grant Marshall, Bruce Driver, and Jim Dowd, and the first black hockey player to play in the NHL: Willie O’Ree. This facility will be home to programs that will reach out to anyone in Newark that wants to play or learn about hockey with learn-to-skate programs, recreational hockey, and competitive Newark hockey teams. Support for hockey programs at the “grassroots” level is paramount even during the NHL season. This is where a lifetime of knowledge and love of hockey begins.
At the Amerihealth Pavillion, you’ll find NJIT’s club ice hockey team and the successful New Jersey Rockets youth hockey teams.
And as long as the lockout continues there will be ugly consequences and Ilya Kovalchuk will continue to wear this hideous jersey.