…Though I kind of understand if you are.
Right after the NHL tabled it’s opening volley…er…offer to the NHLPA I expressed my reasoning as to why it wasn’t the right time to slam the panic button. While after Gary Bettman expressing that if there is no deal in place by September 15th there will be another work stoppage, I’m not prepared to cry wolf, yet I understand if some of you are.
When word was out of Bettman’s threat of a lockout came public, my initial reaction was that the league is using the threat as a method of getting Don Fehr and the NHLPA collective rear ends moving. Time is a wasting and I feel that there are some senses of stall tactics going on from the union.
The league was prepared to begin meeting with the union as soon as they were ready, yet instead of beginning negotiations early, the union decided they would wait until the Cup Finals were over. Which, I actually understand, but they didn’t even put together their negotiating committee until after the Finals as well. It’s kind of odd to me that the union states they would be willing to negotiate during the upcoming season while it ran using the prior CBA if a deal couldn’t be reached in time, yet weren’t willing to negotiate early while games were going on.
I know beyond little about how collective bargaining negotiations work, but my understanding is that the threat of a lockout puts the power leaning into the league’s favor because a lockout would prevent the union from striking. Even with no indication publicly, who knows about privately, that the union would or has considered a strike, in addition to the lowball first offer that this is just a reminder that the league, while negotiating in good faith, are the ones that truly run the show. Recall that is its because of the Don Fehr led 1994 baseball strike you have to thank for league’s protecting themselves by doing the locking out ever since.
It HAS to be done, else the players could strike at ANY time. Fehr Exhibit A presented as admissible evidence.
While I am admittedly pro owner, I dont wish to sound anti-players union. It’s just that anytime I see people talk about labor negotiations or potential labor unrest, everyone wants to Whack-A-Mole Gary Bettman. Which I think is grossly unfair and attempt to do my best at looking at the picture as big as I can when assessing news of the labor variety in the NHL.
That being said, if there is anything that has been truly bringing my blood to a boil, it comes from the typical and expected comments from current and former player agents. If there was ever a group of people who only care about the amount of money their clients, and thus themselves, make solvency of the league be damned it’s these people. But I will spare you the rage for the time being.
Superficially this doesn’t look good on the owners, but it is not on the superficial where the deals need to be made. Hard progress is necessary and it is time that significant progress is made.
Some comments blast the league for wanting to overhaul a CBA that they themselves created 7 years ago. Well, when that CBA was drafted and ratified, it was thought to be a pretty darn infallible and foolproof document. And over the course of its duration, loopholes were found and exploited. It’s not surprising, there are many a smart people out there and such things are desired to be closed.
One other thing, is who knew the league would have grown as much and as quickly as it has in these past 7 years. It could be almost argued that the league has, in a sense, become a victim of its own success. With such rapid growth several teams have found themselves struggling underwater again unable to generate the revenue required to offset the rise in salaries that followed the revenue growth. That is impossibly difficult to have predicted.
The NFL labor discussions also featured talk around revenue streams. The NFLPA felt as though they should be compensated with their percentage of things like stadium naming rights among others. I am not so sure what rights the players should have in regards to streams such as that whatsoever. So I fully understand the NHL’s desire to redefine what Hockey Related Revenues are and which ones the players are liable to their cut of. When the NHL signed its most recent television deal everyone calculated, myself included, how that money split 30 ways over the term and what increase in money each team got. It never actually donned on me what if the players got their 57% cut of it. That would leave considerably less than what everyone originally thought. Is that a stream of revenue that the players should get their cut of? Therein lies the heart of the discussion pertaining to the CBA.
To be perfectly honest, HRR redefinition just might be the best course of action. Because, as of right now, I am not seeing how revenue sharing fixes anything. It only seems like more of a butterfly bandage over a medium sized cut. You won’t bleed to death but why bleed when you don’t have to?
If I have the time too, hopefully I can keyboard some more thoughts after the next counter offer comes from the union on Tuesday. For now, no panic here, it will be steady as she goes at least for the remainder of August. Then perhaps my tune might change a little when zero hour approaches.