Thursday, 9 August 2012

September 15 Is D-Day

The first mention of the words "lock" and "out" happened today as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman dropped those two words in succession in speaking to the media today. As it stands, Gary Bettman's calendar has 37 days remaining as he stated that the NHL players would be locked out if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't struck by September 15. For those of you keeping score at home, this would be the third league shutdown under Gary Bettman since the current commissioner took over operations. I should stress that both sides are currently working towards an agreement, and, from all reports, it appears both sides are still working together. But the line in the sand has been drawn by the league, and now both sides need to get their acts together before that deadline hits us.

"I re-confirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the last nine to 12 months," Bettman told reporters after a two-hour meeting on Thursday. "Namely, that time is getting short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season, so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon. And we believe there's ample time for the parties to get together and make a deal and that's what we're going to be working towards."

Look, let's be realistic here: there are NHL owners who are still losing money in the new system despite the "controlled" spending limits. Where I feel that the league has lost its way is in determining how the salary cap increases. Because of this, more teams are determined to spend to the floor rather than the ceiling in order to increase profit, and that's simply good business for the owners. They make money, they remain happy.

"The fundamental proposal, our initial proposal, relates to the fact that we need to be paying out less in player costs," Bettman said to the media.

The players, on the other hand, see the NHL boasting about "record profits" and "increase revenue", and they start to wonder why they are having a portion of their salaries going to escrow. And now the owners are saying that player costs are too high once again and that salaries need to decrease. If you're a player, and you see teams like the Flyers and Wild and Devils giving out $100 million contracts, do you believe that the problem is player salaries?

"We made a presentation directly related to the owners' proposal - a revenue-sharing system as it would be combined with the player compensation system that they had proposed," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr told the media. "In the course of doing that, I indicated to them that for a couple of different reasons it didn't look to us like it was the way to go.

"In particular, the biggest reason was that it seems to us, both overall and on a club-by-club basis, all of the revenue-sharing payments - both the new ones and the existing ones - would be paid for by player salary reductions."

So the chasm remains as wide as it was when the owners forced the players to cave during the last lockout. Owners can't afford to pay players without bleeding red ink, and the players can't seem to understand why the owners are crying poor when salaries are still rising in the NHL under a salary cap system.

Gary Bettman made a comment about "fundamental economics", but it seems to me that both sides are crying poor when they really aren't as poor as they make themselves out to be. In the long run, all this bickering really does nothing but hurt the game. If the game is all about "fundamental economics", perhaps both sides need to take an economics class to understand that supply-and-demand is a major component of their business.

Those that keep the game in business - the fans - simply aren't buying this "woe is me" garbage any longer.

Get a deal done, and find a way to get rich by providing a great product at an affordable price. That way, everyone stays happy and in business.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

TedNes said...

I can't say I feel sympathy for either side.....players are all doing fine, thank you very much....Owners, well, other than the Coyotes saga, and wondering about teams like Columbus, it's tough to feel sorry for any of them....

Now, I can't be the only one sitting here thinking "did none of you donkeys learn anything from the lost season of 04-05?...did Hockey really ever recover?----many say it did....myself, I dunno----I think some markets are still waining.....

the players say they'll play without an agreement in place-----sounds to me like Bettman won't give them that chance...