Friday, September 14, 2012

Shame on both sides.

There are no major reasons for this NHL lockout. As Ken Dryden says in the Globe and Mail, this is fighting for the sake of fighting.

Who doesn’t believe this will ultimately end with the players and owners getting a 50/50 (or close to it) split of revenues with increased revenue sharing amongst the owners?

Do Bettman and Fehr believe the end result will be different? No they don’t. So why is the NHL about to lock out its players? It’s the ridiculous dance this league does every 5 to 7 years. Garry Bettman looks for the cost certainty his owners need to protect them from themselves. Donald Fehr is looking to put up a fight to make players feel like they are partners and not employees. Make them feel like they actually have a say in how 29 billionaires run their hockey teams. It has never been a partnership and it never will be. No owner is ever going to allow the employee to tell him how to run the business.

If players want to have a say in how ownership works, then buy a team. There are many, many ownership opportunities currently available in the NHL. Full ownership, partnership, equity investor, all these opportunities exist. If the NHL is such a great investment why haven’t any active players bought in? Because players know how many teams lose money and that’s ok as long as its not their money.

If owners ignore common sense in the name of stubbornness it only drags this on longer. When only a third of the teams in your league make money, it is obvious that increased revenue sharing is needed to end the cycle of franchise bankruptcy stories which seem to come out during the same week the NHL is bragging about league revenues going up. If 10 teams make a lot more money it doesn’t mean the bottom 10 teams are any better off. Just because changes to revenue sharing was the players idea and not yours doesn’t make it a bad idea.

The last lockout was about fundamentally changing the economic model for this entire industry with the implementation of a salary cap system. A massive legal and philosophical battle. This battle is nothing like that. It is simply about percentages and balancing the financial playing field between the big money making teams and the big money losing teams.

There is no good reason for this work stoppage.
Both sides should be ashamed for their role in this.
Neither side is innocent its only different degrees of guilt.

See you are the rink (some day).

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 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.