If current trends continue, the National Hockey League will lockout their players this weekend. Once that happens, the League, many NHL players, and every fan will move forward with their alternative plans.
Immediate Flyers' plans
If a lockout does come to pass, every organization can opt to send players on entry-level contracts to their minor league system. The Flyers would likely assign Sean Couturier, Erik Gustafsson, Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, and Eric Wellwood to the American Hockey League's Adirondack Phantoms.
Marc-Andre Bourdon could also wear a Phantoms' jersey this season, because he has a two-way (NHL - AHL) contract and was on the Phantoms' clear list as of last March. As a result, he doesn't have to pass through waivers and can sign an AHL-only contract after September 15.
There are always positives that can be taken from any dire situation. In this instance, at least some of the Flyers' young players will be able to play within the system for whatever period of time the lockout lasts.
Balanced lockout actions
I'm someone who was fortunate to have worked in professional sports earlier in my career. My experience was gained in the front office for a team in the Philadelphia Phillies' minor league baseball system.
What I learned about exceptional athletes and the outstanding people who work behind the scenes to actually bring public events to life, went well beyond that particular sport. So, I fully understand the need for both sides in this business dispute to consider their own best interests and to act in whatever manner they feel is best.
I've been a fan of hockey since the 1970s, first rooting for the 'Bullies' during their back-to-back Stanley Cup seasons. I was also introduced to the American Hockey League during that same decade, when my Uncle Gene took my cousins and me to Hershey Bears' games.
Hopefully, everyone resolves their money matters in time for the Winter Classic to be played. If that doesn't happen, most fans will find other ways to enjoy a game that they have loved since their childhood days.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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