What the NHL Lockout Means to Penguins Fans

[caption id="attachment_40" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Photograph Courtesy of: Christinne Muschi/Reuters"][/caption]

Go back with me 8 years ago as the NHL is facing a lockout that ended up lasting the entire season, the Pittsburgh Penguins are a struggling franchise and the possibility of the team being moved looms. The Penguins can't afford to lose an entire season of ticket sales and interest in the team is at an all new low. Somehow someway the Pens outlast the lockout and the following year they signed C Sidney Crosby under new ownership by none other than Mario Lemieux. 2007 plans for a new Arena go in place and in 2009 the Penguins were Stanley Cup Champions, 2010 the new Consol Energy Center opened up. Now in 2012 a new lockout is upon us but what does this all mean for the Penguins and the fans?

Lets focus first on the team, who admittedly is in a much better place than it was in 2004. The Penguins boast 2 of the best centers in the game, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, along with an elite Goalie in Marc-Andre Fleury. Coach Dan Bylsma, who took over mid season in 2009 has brought a new brand of hockey to Pittsburgh and with Lemieux as owner Pittsburgh fans feel content with the team. The Penguins have made the playoffs consistently since 2007 with 2 trips to the finals, both facing the Detroit Red Wings. The Penguins franchise has made quite the turnaround since 2004, from a team under threat of being sold to Kansas City to the arguably the face of the NHL.

What do Penguins fans have to lose during the lockout...well hockey. This time around there is really no threat of people completely losing interest in the Penguins as they have grown to one of the most loyal groups in the NHL. Fans are going to be missing out on a healthy Sidney Crosby to start a season, the reigning mvp Evgeni Malkin, and all the new players acquired through the draft and via trade. Fans hopefully won't miss out on an entire season as they did 8 years ago, maybe just the pre-season.

For the first time since the lockout officially began the players association and owners are meeting this weekend. Both sides want to reach an agreement on the 3 billion or so dollars of revenue the NHL gets every year. The old agreement had the players getting around 50% plus, this time around owners want to cut that down to under 50%. There are also other issues regarding salary caps and contract lengths. So until both sides reach an agreement Penguins fans are going to have to sit, wait, and watch reruns of old games, and no worries this time around the Penguins are here to stay.

Zach Helbling is a senior writer for chatsports.com who writes about Pittsburgh teams including Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. He works full time as a contractor in the Pittsburgh area and can be reached directly at zhelbling@chatsports.com or follow him on twitter @DJZachyzach.

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