Last weekend the Chicago Blackhawks feted fans with a convention at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, hoping to stir up buzz before they hit the ice, open up training camp and launch into the season — that is, if the season opens without a hitch.
It was only eight years ago that the National Hockey League lost a full season to a labor dispute; now, after the NFL and NBA’s own labor issues last year, it seems it’s the NHL’s turn once again. The current contract expires on September 15th. “We’re concerned about reaching a fair deal — that’s our number one goal,” Blackhawk captain Jonathan Towes said of the contract negotiations. “It’s up to the league whenever we get it done.”
The players haven’t expressed concerns about a possible work stoppage, though; nor has Coach Quenneville or General Manager Stan Bowman. The NHL players are represented by Donald Fehr, and if that rings a bell, it might be because he played that same role for Major League Baseball players’ union. Fehr has been quoted saying a strike would be a “last resort.”
But for fans, labor issues were not of concern at the convention.