Not Playing Hard Ball.

Since the last CBA the NHL has had seven different Stanley Cup Champions in as many years. Los Angeles won their first title this year.

The current NHL collective bargaining agreement expires September 15th. At first it looked like a lockout was looming. The owners attempted to play some hard ball. They put their foot down with an outrageous CBA proposal obviously in the hopes that the NHLPA would give a strong reaction.

In the owners proposal, the players would take a 24% income cut. The owners, like in the previous NBA and NFL lockouts cite rising costs as a reason for a reconstructed CBA. This time however asking the players for such a sharp pay cut puts the responsibility of those heavy losses on the heads of the players. A thesis that is both flawed and unfair.

That’s why the NHLPA’s counter proposal is so surprising.

The players’ proposal by comparison sounds level-headed and open to compromise. Instead of looking to join the hard ball game, the players association offered to take pay cut, by reducing their share of hockey related revenue from 57% to 43%, and they decided not propose a softened or removed salary cap. A softened salary cap would be to the players’ advantage.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, has hinted on a couple of occasions that he would like the two sides to be able to negotiate through the season. The owners have made it abundantly clear that their stance is immovable. They will not start the season with the current CBA. This of course also puts the players in the lead of the public relations battle. As they should be.

If hockey is played, it will be due to the flexibility of the players.

If it isn’t it is the rigidity of the owners at work.

Less hockey means that the fans get screwed no matter what. Fan support has been up in the sport. Lockouts like this are always stupid. Since the last CBA was agreed upon the NHL has experienced an amazing $3.3 billion of growth. Fans always have to wonder, where’s the money? Can’t they split it and get along with their business?

They can. They won’t, but they can.

The players, owners, and fans want hockey. The fans don’t deserve this.

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