Blue Jackets, fans, business owners cope with lost season

The commissioner of the national hockey league announced today that the season is over. Players and owners were not able to reach an agreement in their labor dispute. Columbus Blue Jackets President and General Manager Doug McClean says he is disappointed the hockey season is cancelled the first time a major American league has canceled an entire season.

A key sticking point in negotiations was a salary cap. The league and players’ union negotiated through the night on Tuesday but couldn’t agree on a number. The players proposed $49 million per team; the owners held firm at $42.5 million. But McClean says it wasn’t as close as it seemed. “The Blue Jackets cannot live with a $42 million cap,” McLean said.

The owners locked out the players before the start of the season. Now, they are looking to next season.

McClean says he expects the negotiations will continue, but an agreement won’t come easily. The sport as a whole has been struggling with fan support.

Hockey games are no longer getting prominent network television airtime and the lucrative contracts that come with it and some experts have suggested the sport may never recover from this year’s canceled season. McClean admits it will be hard for the Blue Jackets,”We have to rebuild we will come back stronger than ever.”

Just a few hundred yards away from the arena, at the Gordon Bierch brewery and restaurant, business is slow. General Manager Stewart Miller says without hockey, his business suffers.

But Miller says, he’s glad the wondering is over.

Now, Stewart and others who make their living in the arena district are just hoping there will be hockey next season.

At a sports themed restaurant in Columbus, Bob Halley stood under a television monitor when the words appeared on the screen. NHL season cancelled.

Columbus blue jackets season ticket owner would have to wait months more until he could see his team.

The day Halley and his fellow hockey fans feared would arrive arrived. The unresolved dispute between players and owners wiped out the entire NHL season.

At the bar, Mark Dombeck paused between bites of his sandwich to say the cancellation will leave a bad taste in the mouths of fans.

For the blue jackets, the lockout wipes out what would have been the franchise’s fifth season. As a new team in a city where college football dominates, former blue jackets season ticket holder Tim Farrell wonders if the jackets can thrive after the cancellation.

But die hard hockey fan Bob Halley says the blue jackets will return strong once they get back on ice.