Monday, October 15, 2012

NHL at a Crossroads


The NHL and NHLPA’s top negotiators (Bettman, Bill Daly and the Fehr Brothers) are set to meet on Tuesday and it looks like they will begin the process of discussing core economic issues. Yippy. Hooray. Finally. Let’s not get too excited. Both sides haven’t shown the capacity to compromise.

Compromise you say? Yes, I say compromise. I believe that deals are agreed upon when both sides compromise. I believe that both sides need to negotiate in good faith and both sides to an agreement need to come out of it believing that they have won or that it is a good deal for them.

The two sides are at a crossroads. Which road will they take? Will they hammer out a deal, save the season and mitigate the damage caused to their fan base or will they continue to put their noses to the grindstone and ignorantly stick to their hard line positions?

Right now, the NHL & NHLPA are so bogged down, trying to beat the other side into submission that they have totally lost control of the negotiating process. With the NHL already losing 250 million dollars and the players losing 8% of their 2012/13 salaries (They’ve lost the first of 13 paychecks), you would think that one of the sides is nearing it’s breaking point.

My bet would be that the players will blink first and that’s what NHL ownership is banking on. They’ve already accepted harming their fan base in order to break the players backs. To me, that is negotiating in bad faith.

The players on the other hand, didn’t seem to put an honest proposal together and are living in a fantasy world if they thought the owners would accept a revenue share beyond 50%. The players need to realize that the owners own the NHL. Players are employees or contractors and I don’t know any other employee/contractor outside of the sporting world that receives even close to 50% of a company’s revenues.

Both sides have been willing to take a hard line approach to negotiations, even if that means taking the risk that some fans will not return. Both sides are willing to destroy their game. Come on guys. Work together to save and even enhance the game you love.

If either side gets their way and harms the other, we will have many more lockouts and work stoppages in the future and there will never be trust between the parties. That’s key to me. There is still a glimmer of hope that the sides can iron out a deal that is palatable to both parties.

If that is done, there is the possibility that both sides can work on rebuilding and creating trust between each other. The players and owners need to see each other as partners and not adversaries. Leave that type of behavior to defense lawyers and prosecutors.

I would like to see the owners take the lead here and offer a reasonable proposal to the players. I would like to see them negotiate in good faith and try not to break the players backs. If they did this and the players refused to reciprocate, I would then turn my wrath to the players.

The players are set to be big losers. Everyone calls them “millionaires” and they are but the billionaire owners want to cripple them. They want to destroy them. As a fan, I can’t agree with that or tolerate that type of behavior.

This nonsense is turning me off professional hockey and that’s sad. I want both sides to start acting like mature adults. I want both sides to start acting in good faith and what’s best for the NHL and professional hockey. Once that happens, hopefully it will lead to a deal.

The NHL and the NHLPA seem to be at an crossroads and it will take some compromising by both parties to get a deal done. While damage has been done and it might take many years to rebuild the damage done to the NHL’s fan base, there is time to repair the mess.

If the NHL & NHLPA agree to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement soon and they limit how many more games will be cancelled, the NHL might just get off the hook. If the season is cancelled, it will take many, many years for the NHL to repair the damage caused by this senseless lockout.

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