Well, ladies and gentlemen, they’ve done it. The lockout has begun. The National Hockey League has sensed the depths of their act and has posted its first “It’s not our fault.” statement. While the number of pro-owner pieces has increased on the internet, this tired old preacher has to look at the rampaging avarice of certain owners that very likely used coersion to garner the unanimous vote that brought us to where we are now. Here is the NHL’s letter to the fans.
Despite the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the National Hockey League has been, and remains, committed to negotiating around the clock to reach a new CBA that is fair to the Players and to the 30 NHL teams. (Which of course explains Bettman telling Fehr that don’t send us any kind of proposal that doesn’t really screw over the players.)
Thanks to the conditions fostered by seven seasons under the previous CBA, competitive balance(tell that to the Toronto Maple Leafs) has created arguably the most meaningful regular season in pro sports; a different team has won the Stanley Cup every year; fans and sponsors have agreed the game is at its best, and the League has generated remarkable growth and momentum.(Which we are more than willing to de-rail, because Bettman has told us those mindless automatons with wallets ‘fans’ will keep shelling out small fortunes for whatever season we give them, and they will do it greatfully.) While our last CBA negotiation resulted in a seismic change in the League’s economic system, and produced corresponding on-ice benefits, our current negotiation is focused on a fairer and more sustainable division of revenues with the Players (Sustainable…We keep burning money on bad decisions and we EXPECT the players to be punished for it.)– as well as other necessary adjustments consistent with the objectives of the economic system we developed jointly with the NHL Players’ Association seven years ago.(Remember then, we were actually in the right then, and we’re so convinced we’re still right we will shut this season down!) Those adjustments are attainable through sensible, focused(forced) negotiation — not through rhetoric.
This is a time of year for all attention to be focused on the ice, (Then why the lockout?!)not on a meeting room. The League, (in its greed)the Clubs(the ones that won’t go under) and the Players all have a stake in resolving our bargaining issues appropriately and getting the puck dropped as soon as possible. We owe it to each other, to the game and, most of all, to the fans.”