Another voice of frustration- @Michael_Traikos of the National Post:
Wake me when it’s over.
That’s how most fans probably feel about the latest squabble between the NHL and the players’ union. They’re fed up.
Don’t talk to them about revenue sharing or salary rollbacks. Don’t tell them one side is being greedy and the other unreasonable. They don’t want to hear it. Not after what happened last time.
In 2004-05, a full season of a hockey was wiped out because of an unwillingness to introduce the salary cap. Eight years later, the existence of the salary cap is not even an issue anymore. Instead, a debate over relative shares of hockey-related revenues could threaten the season from starting. It could be about midi-chlorian counts and magic beans, for all fans care.
All that matters is that it appears we are going to lose more games. How many? It’s hard to say yet, but the doomsday preppers are already planning for the worst.
Joe Thornton and Rick Nash, who spent the previous lockout in Switzerland, are reportedly making arrangements to head back for a second tour.
Teemu Selanne is in talks to return to his old team in Finland. And the once-ignored American Hockey League, which releases its now highly anticipated schedule on Friday, is about to become the hottest ticket in town.
All because Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr would rather come up with inventive ways to say “far apart” than lock themselves in a room and actually work on bridging the so-called gap that exists between the two sides.
Who knows? Maybe this is all just posturing. Maybe a deal will be worked out just in time for the season opener on Oct. 13. Maybe we just need to sit back, relax and let the negotiation process work itself out.
But with the current collective bargaining agreement due to expire on Sept. 15, it seems likely that the season will not start on time and that a month or more will be lost, which is sad and depressing and really kind of stupid.
Remember the last time that the doors locked on the NHL? NBC was forced to show The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge. Instead of hockey, people sat around and watched puppies jumping through hoops. The drama!
That cannot happen. Not again.
And yet, someone is going to have to compromise. That “monetary gulf,” as described by Fehr, has to be bridged by both sides.
We are talking billions of dollars and big egos, so it will not be easy. The owners want the players to take a smaller piece of the pie, by cutting player salaries by 24% and decreasing their share of league revenue to 43% from 57%.
The players are willing to keep what they have but give up a claim on additional revenues earned for the next three years. But they also want the league’s wealthier owners to be responsible for propping up the have-nots of the league.
Which side is right? Neither, if another lockout occurs.
And yet, we appear to be heading that way. Bettman has already stated that if the CBA expires on Sept. 15 without a new one in place, hockey will not be played. Fehr has warned union members to be prepared for that.
It could just be a bluff. Then again, what if it is not? Canadian hockey fans are a loyal bunch. But how many fringe fans were lost from the previous lockout? How many more are at risk this time around?
How many players will hang up the skates if a month or more is lost? How many franchises can survive when the only tenants in their arenas are rock bands and ice capades? How can the NHL, which signed a US$200-million agreement with NBC in 2011, go back to blackouts?
How could a sport that is still considered a distant fourth among North American team sports, risk losing more popularity?
I don’t want to think about it. So, I am going to close my eyes. And when I open them up again, I just want handshakes and for hockey to start on time.