While speculation is at an all-time high about the NHL’s CBA negotiations, one thing is for sure; if an agreement is not made by September 15th, the NHL players will be locked out. If this happens, it will be the 3rd time Bettman has allowed the NHL to go into lockout. The only thing that seems to be agreed upon by Don Fehr (NHLPA) and Gary Bettman (NHL) is that there is a ‘ wide gap ‘ or ‘ meaningful gulf ‘ between the sides.
So what does this mean for NHL fans? Well, if an agreement isn’t made, it means no hockey for a while. This also means decreased revenue and excitement around hockey, which has been growing exponentially the last 5 years. If the NHL has a lockout it will be horrible for the expansion of the game both in North America and abroad (global preseason games have already been cancelled)…
Don Fehr has suggested that the game should continue until an agreement is made. “Under the law, if an agreement expires, that may give someone the legal ability to go on strike or in this case to impose a lockout,” he said. “There’s no requirement that they do so and if nobody does anything you (can) continue to work under the old conditions.” But Bettman and the NHL owners do not have any intentions of operating under the current CBA, even if it means no 2013 season. According to Bettman, “We reiterated to the union that the owners will not play another year under the current agreement”. If the CBA is not finalized by September 15th, there is a good chance a lockout is imminent.
But what is everyone even arguing about anyway? Well, the league wants to make sure the owners are protected. They are trying to lower salaries for players and essentially put that money back into the owners’ pockets. According to Don Fehr on NHL’s proposal, “Seems to us that all of the revenue-sharing payments would be paid for by player salary reductions.” Revenue sharing is definitely the biggest issue at hand. The NHL’s current proposal includes an 11% cut of hockey-related revenues going to players (changing from 57% to 46%). Do the players or the owners really need this money? No, probably not. But they definitely want it and they will fight ’til the death (or until September 15th) to come to a compromise.
Personally, it seems that both sides are hard-lining. I mean, yesterday’s meeting lasted less than 2 hours. But hey, isn’t that what negotiations are about? Ask for more than what you want, and don’t let up until the very last second. And we aren’t at the very last second, not yet. I am pretty optimistic that the NHL and NHLPA will work out an agreement, because if they don’t they are hurting virtually all of their stakeholders (players, owners, league, agents, and the fans). Don Fehr and the NHLPA are expected to give their first counterproposal to the NHL on Tuesday 8/14. And hopefully in the meantime, fans don’t attack Gary Bettman and demand hockey. For now those fans will have to wait patiently… or make aggressive memes.