Neither the Owners nor NHLPA seem to be in any hurry to settle this lockout. Both parties are being stubborn and they will not bend on their positions. Both sides made offers, which were quickly rejected.
Instead of working through their differences and making progress on a new collective bargaining agreement in the coming days and weeks to save hockey, it is expected the league will start to make grim announcements that will be all-too-familiar to fans that lived through the 2005-05 lockout.
“Unfortunately, it looks like an 82-game season is not going to be a reality,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said at a news conference from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the Islanders announced they would be relocating starting with the 2015-16 season.
The NHL has set today as the artificial deadline to get a new collective bargaining agreement done, so training camp can start on Friday and the season can begin next week as deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Canadian Press:
On Wednesday, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Canadian Press “there is no way a full schedule can start after Nov. 2. The league has maintained that training camps would have to open by Friday in order for the season to begin a week later.”
Considering the league did not accept the union’s request to a formal meeting on Tuesday night, the season in on the verge of being cancelled again. The NHL maintained that if the NHLPA was unwilling to work off the league’s last proposal, then a meeting wasn’t necessary.
From Tom Guliti of the Bergen Record:
“We said to them that we are prepared to meet if you want to discuss our offer or if you want to make a new offer,” Bettman said. “They have no inclination on doing either and so there really was no point in meeting at this point. … The fact of the matter is there’s just sometimes where you need to take time off because it’s clear that you can’t do anything to move the process forward and we’re at one of those points right now because we gave our very best offer.”
It appears he and the owners are taking a “Hard line position” which could destroy a hope of a season.
The league made it s last offer to the union on October 16, one that included a 50/50 revenue split and a provision to “make whole” existing player contracts by employing deferred payments.
“That offer, for better or for worse, was contingent on playing an 82-game season, so I think things in some respects may get more difficult.” Bettman said.
The union did not like the idea of the “make whole” provision as they saw it as players paying players instead owners paying players, so they rejected it. The union put forth three proposals that will see revenue get to a 50-50 split over time. An important provision for the union because it wants to ensure all current contracts are paid out in full. This will become more of a challenge as more games get cancelled.
Let’s assume the union contained terms unacceptable to the owners and vice versa with regards to the owners’ proposal. One cannot believe there was absolutely nothing in either agreement that could be used as a good starting point to find a common ground for a settlement. It would make sense that both sides sit down and work out a resolution so the season can be salvaged.
From Renaud P Lavoie of RDS on union wanting a meeting with the owners:
NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr: “We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not. At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created.”
This lack of communication and urgency will result in a lost season and a very disgruntled fan base. The fans want to see hockey and an immediate settlement. Both parties have legitimate grips, but there has to be a way to make both the owners and players satisfied and implement an agreement which will long lasting and work for both sides. The reputation of the league and a lost season are in jeopardy.
The game of chicken has gone on long enough. Pierre McGuire, hockey analyst for NBC and TSN said on the Mike Richards in the Morning show on TSN 1050 Radio in Toronto, “Both sides are too arrogant and ignorant to see what they are doing to the game of hockey. You are telling me that smart business people cannot split $3.3 Billion in hockey related revenue.”
Unlike the NFL, MLB, and NBA the NHL is not getting a lot of press in the sports world these days. When those sports engaged in labor disputes, the news reported them constantly and the media and fan outcries were heard which may have helped settle the lockouts or strikes sooner.
The NHL does not get that kind of publicity. The sport needs to be in a position to get more media exposure. It needs to be revived and the sport moved to the next level. Interest of the sport, TV exposure and revenues has seen record gains in recent years. The owners, players and fans want to see the momentum to continue in the future.
The league is expected to make bigger cuts to the schedule in the coming weeks and the Winter Classic and the All Star game are on the chopping. The loss of the Winter Classic will be a blow to the sport as the game has been able to beat in the ratings some of the premier college football bowl games on New Year’s Day.
Owners and Players’ listen to the fans and get a deal done sooner than later or else hockey will become a dying sport in the United States.