Well, we’re now starting the third month of the 2012-13 lockout. Today was also paycheck number three for the NHL players. Unfortunately for them, there is no escrow check for them this time to hold them over. For the first time, a majority of the players will feel a serious sting as they’re no longer receiving money from their primary source of income. The owners can’t really claim they’re raking in the cash either, for all those empty stadiums can’t make their cash flow projections look any better. (Save for those teams that were hemorrhaging money and the lockout is actually helping.)
So, most of the NHLPA’s constituency is hurting financially, and the owners are definitely spiraling towards a loss for the year. You’d figure that would inspire one or both sides to come to the table and try to salvage SOMETHING out of the season. Right? Wrong. The NHL has outright told the players to not bother unless they’re willing to make larger concessions at the negotiating table. If the players do so then the owners might declare this a victory for management.
I have some news for Commissioner Bettman, Director Jacobs, and the rest of the Board of Governors… even if you force the players to give in and acquiesce to this current proposal and get most of what you want, this will not be a victory for you. It at best will be a limited defeat for the ownership, a rallying cry to batten down the hatches for the next CBA, and total defeat for the league. One of the league’s executives summed it up at the discussions on Wednesday. ” The reality is, neither side is really going to like this deal no matter where it ends up. But to wait until next season to get a deal done helps absolutely no one.”
On the brightside, if anyone can get a deal done and spare us from another dead season, it is very likely Don Fehr. the NHLPA director has a much larger and diverse body of clients to report to. (Informing, motivating, and keeping eight hundred hockey players in the loop must be akin to herding cats.) Fehr seems to be listening to his client’s complaints and trying to get them the best deal possible. Now, you might not be a Fehr fan, but all sides can agree that what happens in the next few weeks will likely shape the fan base’s opinion of him in stone. (Hopefully, he won’t end up cast in the same light as Bettman.)
We can expect the games to be cancelled to December 15th any day now. If the parties can’t get a deal done say by the week after Thanksgiving, we could lose the entire season. (Granted the 2004-05 season didn’t officially get the axe until February ’05, but I suspect Bettman is holding on to that card as a final scare tactic against the players–and the fans.)