When the American Civil War started in 1861, both sides believed it would be a ninety day war. The Union and the Confederacy were under the notion that it would take one or two skirmishes, and the war would be over. No matter what side won, they would have made the argument, fought the good fight, and would be able to walk away with a clear conscience. That ninety day war turned out to be a four year struggle which the nation was put back together at the cost of two percent of the American population.
It just seems all too familiar. The NHL and the players’ union lined up their troops on the line. They rattled their sabres, loaded their cannons, and march their proverbial infantry up to the line to fight that good fight. Now it is three months later. The ownership seem divided. One faction who want to see the game played because the big market teams are starting to see profound damage done to the landscape. The other faction, desperately try to hold on to the past to seek whatever personal gain they can, without regard to the damage done.
The players can only look upon this mess with a sense of shock, horror, and no small feeling of guilt. On several occasions, the sides were close enough to put lesser details aside and make a deal that would have brought the CBA to a conclusion and the resumption of play. For whatever reason you wish to believe, (the players themselves are in the same position.) the players couldn’t close the deal. Some of the players were thinking about the paycheck, some players were thinking about their contracts, and others were willing to take anything that sounded remotely fair to them.
It’s unfair of the fans to tell the players what they can or can not take out of this CBA. We’re all grown adults here. Yes, we have passion for this sport. Some our passions border on the fanatical. In the end, it is up to the players to look at the offers made, and decide if their current course of action is in their best interests. (Lord knows, it is not in the best interest of the league though.)
The players will NEED to make a choice though. Two hundred and fifty one players contracts will end at the end of this ‘season’. One hundred and forty eight of them will be unrestricted free agents. Anything goes for them. They could play in the AHL, Europe, anywhere. Those contracts affect 437 million in the salary cap. The total percentage of those player contracts equal 23.3% of the total contracts in the league. The average is nearly 1.7 million per contract. At the end of the year, a lot is up for grabs, and if nothing is done, then the likelihood of this league becoming nothing is all to real.