In about 72 hours, the current CBA for the NHL will expire with no progress on the horizon for terms agreed on by the NHL owners and the NHLPA. I’m known as Mr. Optimism through many of my friends but following the CBA news, Gary Bettman’s statements on the two sides “talking”, and quotes from the players directly, my flame is slowly burning out. I despise the idea of possibly knowing that we might not see an NHL game played for another 400 days.
I tried putting myself in a player or owners shoes to see how I would feel or compromise on the matters at hand. The only difference is, I’ll never own an NHL franchise to make those decisions, and I’m never going to be an NHL stud to really understand the dynamic of both parties.
Here’s what I do understand about the owners dilemma and their feelings on what percentage of HHR (hockey related revenue) they get to have. As a business man, I understand and embrace that I want to do 100% what is best for me. When you run a business, key individuals always help drive the productivity. However, the individual who opened the door, grew that business for one reason, personal gains. I know they want the owners of excessively successful clubs to share revenue with less successful franchises however, it’s their business. I wouldn’t be happy if someone said, “Hey, just help out your buddy next door. They’re in the same game you are.”
Fans do not care about the owners of NHL franchises. Well they do in the way that successful and smart owners/GM’s will find and negotiate deals to get talented players to attract fans and fill the house. Owners don’t put fans in the seats and GM’s don’t put fans in the seats. The players are why we as fans spend hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars every season to watch our favorite players live. If you’re a fan of the sport, you know there are just some games you DO NOT miss in order to see an NHL legend work his magic.
As for the players’ dilemma, their tension is mounting with the salary rollback requests, again. The players already gave up revenue when the CBA was negotiated back in 2004-2005. I find it absolutely ludicrous that they are asking the players to give up more. I don’t care about your perspective on how some NHL players are making too much, ahem Gary Bettman. Just because there is a miniscule percentage of players’ actively making a higher salary than you, it’s because they’ve earned it and for the most part are worth what they are getting paid. I’ve firmly stood behind the notion that NHL athletes are the most talented, skilled, and underpaid athletes on the planet. They have the longest playing season in terms of the length of time hockey is played from training camp to the Stanley Cup Final and probably the most physically demanding. The players should be the priority in negotiations, not the owners. I’m not saying the whole universe has to be given to them, but they drive the NHL locomotive.
The NHL cannot afford a third lockout in the past 20 years, especially with some teams in financial predicaments like the Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils. It disgusts me to hear how the commissioner is offering a take it or leave it option by the deadline. Don’t cry a word to the media or the league about how X team is losing millions of dollars annually when the last thing you or that franchise needs is to not drop the puck. Both the players and fans deserve better treatment than what is currently developing.
Gary Bettman stated, “No one wants a deal more than me.” I’ll politely keep my developing vocabulary to myself. Don’t belittle the fans of the game, don’t talk about how far apart the NHL and NHLPA are, and don’t cry wolf on what teams are a financial drag on the league when you have no problem sleeping at night knowing you really could care less if there is a lockout. If you really wanted to get this done, you wouldn’t put an ultimatum on the players and would continue negotiating as the season progressed.
Sorry for the rambling and the strong opinions but I think a lot of you reading this can relate as well all want one thing, an NHL season. It’s great to see the players literally showing up by the roster to show the league and its owners that they want to be heard and are standing together united as one unit so hockey can resume.
The Devils showed their support as well and had players present at Wednesday’s meeting in NYC. Among the attendee’s were Dainius Zubrus, Adam Henrique, Stephen Gionta, Mark Fayne, Henrik Tallinder, Adam Larsson, Anton Volchenkov, Bryce Salvador, David Clarkson, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, and Ryan Carter.