The National Hockey League team owners and players were unable to come to an agreement on the contracts for the 2012-2013 season. Sunday, September 16, 2012, was the official start to the lockout that many had been dreading. Though NHL fans are likely more than disappointed by the current lockout and potential delay of the season, which could cause disastrous effects that may plague the league for seasons to come, some of the AHL teams may be temporarily benefiting from the lockout. Although some of the players will venture overseas for their playing time, some players have been sent to AHL affiliates for the lockout. If the lockout continues into the season, it seems AHL teams will be getting some great players and will likely be seen by NHL fans who want to see some hockey.
The Washington Capitals, a team based out of Washington, D.C., have already assigned several players to the NHL team's AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Some of these players may not have otherwise been playing for the Bears. NHL officials have implemented an early waiver allowing certain players, who likely would have been playing at least some games in the AHL, to be sent to minor league affiliates before the typical timeframe instead of being stuck waiting for the lockout to end. These players may then return to the NHL team after the lockout ends. The Capitals used waivers for Matt Clackson, Zach Hamill, Kevin Marshall, Patrick McNeill, Ryan Potulny, Dany Sabourin, Garrett Stafford and Ryan Stoa. In addition to these eight players, the team has also been assigned two others. Braden Holtby and Dmitry Orlov may once again be playing for the Bears. These two would otherwise be playing for the Capitals.
Last season, the Bears had a tough time in some respects. The team did manage to make the playoffs, thanks to a wild card slot. Unfortunately, the team could not overcome the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. The Bears lost to their rivals and were out in the first round. The loyal fans are likely pretty hopeful that this could be a great year for the Bears, especially with some strong players looking to appear for at least a short time.
The Hershey Bears will begin the 2012-2013 season with an away game against the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday, October 13, 2012. Fans will be able to attend the first home game of the season on Saturday, October 20, when the team will be hosting the Rochester Americans. If the lockout does continue into the season, it seems that hockey fans may be watching more AHL games so this could be a big year for both the AHL and the Bears.