As the NHL CBA talks continue toward the September 15th deadline, I would like to add a clause to what ever deal is finally reached. The “Time” clause. Time is at the centre of every debate. Is there enough “time” to get a deal done?
A hard deadline is a bargaining tool both sides use to pressure each other. I would like a clause in the CBA which benefits neither side but may benefit fans, who are the forgotten partners in this negotiation.
The clause would be a simple one. The two parties would be bound by the CBA to begin negotiations one year before the expiration of the current CBA. The leaders, in this case Bettman and Fehr would be required to meet face-to-face for a minimum of 2 hours every 5 working days until the expiration of the current CBA. This would prevent either side from simply sending lawyers and emissaries to discuss each others stall tactics. Within the first 30 days of these meetings the NHL must present a legitimate proposal and the NHLPA must make a legitimate counter proposal within 15 days of receiving it.
There is no guarantee this clause would eliminate the possibility of a work stoppage, but if the 2 leaders are forced to talk to each other about only CBA issues, it is more likely the CBA won’t be an issue when the deadline arrives and hockey is threatened.
The owners knew exactly what their first proposal would be months before it was actually presented. After it was presented the NHLPA took over 3 weeks to respond to it. During that 3 week period union head Donald Fehr went to Russia and Spain to “update players”. While he was there he also worked out the basic guidelines for an exhibition series with KHL All-Stars in case NHL players were locked out. Should his emphasis not have been on the task of getting a deal done instead of planning for the eventuality of it not getting done?
The deadline is now exactly 1 month away and the NHLPA has just now made their first response to the owners opening proposal.
The time crunch is only a factor because both sides made it a factor with their foot dragging and complete lack of consideration for the fans who are being pushed to the edge of this cliff unwillingly.
My idea will never see the light of day for 2 reasons. Neither side wants to relinquish the bargaining power that a deadline holds and secondly despite claims to the contrary, neither side truly considers the fans in this CBA process.
See you at the rink.