First, lets examine the importance of a long term Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA). The purpose is simply avoiding these frequent work stoppages – its bad for the game! If we stop giving people a reason to argue, they won’t. The perfect deal going forward would be long term. It’s also damaging for the businesses in the home cities; people are losing jobs. There is major disrespect coming from the owner’s side here.
The individual player contract terms that the league is asking for is good maneuver. This is their best effort so far to balance the ability of all teams to compete (plus get a lid on salary escalation). I like this move; the players should roll over on this one if they are truly for the health of the league. Although, this is a good negotiating position for them as well. They will hang on to this as long as they can. Hopefully it isn’t much longer, but I fear we’ve used all of the time we had to waste and going forward with a season may simply be more losses for the owners.
The league in effect should accept the players offer to get to 50/50 in such a way that doesn’t cut from existing contracts or does so at an acceptably minimal rate to the players. This is the hardest position for the NHL to fight for; they’re demands for gross cuts appear to be a last option for select owners to bail out of bad contracts or merely avoid some of their financial burdens. This is simply the fault of a few rogue owners whom Bettman is responsible for reigning in. This is where Bettman is at fault. If he feels anything is hurting the progress of negotiations it is his job to get the wheels turning again. Well they’re hurting the process and he seems to be absent from the driver’s seat on this one. It’s very scandalous in my opinion.
This process has been a one way road the entire way. The players are hanging on for dear life as the owners continuously demand more concessions. There is absolutely no movement toward the players and they don’t appear to be asking for more. I commend the players for this – as if negotiations couldn’t get any worse! This is where I believe the good faith concerns are creeping in and another example of the league failing in its job description.
We need an ambassador for the game just as much a businessman. We need someone who is trying to get this sport on the cover ESPN with the other leagues. We need someone who is doing as much as they can for the game, without hurting the game. The truth is Bettman likes a battle; he’s a business man. This is what businessmen do – battle. This is his peanut butter and jelly. He is digging in and lathering up. Why the rest of the league is allowing this guy to manipulate the process is beyond me. He needed to show more concern for getting the game on the ice. I don’t think he’s even thought about the game. He is eyeballing the chopping block here.
Ultimately, is all of this worth losing an entire season? Well that’s a tough question – it depends who we’re asking? Time is money and the longer this goes on the more money people lose. We know not every owner has the same amount of money so this is evolving into an ugly decomposition process. I expect this to bring about a some new rivalries in the league. The players have been prepared to lose the season and are not budging until the owners and Bettman learn how to negotiate. Furthermore, the owners do not want to lose two seasons, it would be the death of the league and so the players will end up with the win sometime in July I predict.
We are approaching the new Year and we have never seen a season fought for beyond January 11th. (i.e 1994 lockout) We are in a crucial period right now with a big gap between the two parties. I highly doubt they risked half the season just to cram a last minute deal that favors neither party for possibly zero profit. In light of this, we are in the “state of the union” stage. It is simply a question of whether or not it matters to these two if we lose the season. Neither side cares much for this year. It appears to have already been wrapped and shelved. They might be better off turning this negotiations into a reality TV series. It would probably do the game some good; Americans love reality, especially when its harsh!
Other notes: Although we haven’t heard much in terms of the conference misalignment’s, we can expect to see those changes in the off-season. Today the NHL with it’s owners has sought legal options in response to a rumor – the NHLPA was going the same route. Stay tuned for more info @ PucksandPitchforks.com