Last night, some friends and I watched the U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team take on Canada in the round-robin portion of the Olympic tournament. The young American team pulled off the big upset, beating Canada 5-3 to clinch the first overall seed for the knockout phase of the tourney. The game itself was electrifying. It had all the things a casual fan looks for in hockey; big hits, lots of goals, tremendous hustle, incredible athleticism. As a friend who used to play hockey told me as the game wound down, "*this* is how the game is supposed to be played."
Watching that match, it was hard to believe that just five short years ago, the NHL -- the league in which every player on both Team USA and Team Canada plays in -- was in shambles. The league was in the middle of a debilitating lockout that saw the entire 2004-2005 season canceled. It was an absolute nightmare. Media outlets and their so-called experts were teeing off on the league, commissioner Gary Bettman and Union Chief Bob Goodenow. Many thought that the league -- which was, and is, the highest quality hockey league in the world -- would cease to operate. Eventually, the NHL came back for the 2005-06 season and began to progress. Sure, things didn't look so great at first. But the NHL beat the odds (and the predictions of the media experts) and now sits in a better spot than ever before, setting new highs in terms of attendance, sponsorship and television viewers in 2009. Hell, even I've been sucked back into the sport (attending my first Hawks game this December) and currently can't get enough.
But despite the copious amounts of intensity and excitement on display in Vancouver last night, I couldn't help but think about the MLS labor negotiations while watching the hockey game. As I'm sure most of you know by now, [labor talks aren't exactly going so well](http://www.soccerbyives.net/soccer_by_ives/2010/02/mls-labor-talks-stall-as-work-stoppage-looms.html#more) and with Thursday's deadline to agree to a new CBA looming larger by the minute, things are looking relatively bleak. So, while watching the hockey game, I wondered to myself if MLS would be able to "pull a NHL" and survive a potential long-term work stoppage.
Personally, I think MLS would be able to survive a potential strike (a lockout is out of the question, as the league has "[communicated that [they don't] have an intention of commencing a lockout](http://goal.com/en-us/news/1110/major-league-soccer/2010/02/22/1802002/monday-mls-breakdown-pressure-falls-on-players-union-as-cba)"). Sure, things would be tough at first. Inevitably, some fans would grow dissatisfied, players would go abroad, ticket sales would decline and television talking heads would proclaim the league's attempt to bring soccer to the forefront of the American conscience as all but finished.
But MLS wouldn't be anywhere if it hadn't already proven to be a resilient league. I believe that if there is a strike the league will prove it's toughness yet again. It will eventually pull through. The interest is there. The fans are intense. The tide of American soccer is rising. Not even a large scale work stoppage can change that.