7:09 PM EST, November 14, 2012
Drop egos and drop puck
It's no secret that NHL Players' Association chief Donald Fehr plays hardball. Ask baseball fans about the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. This is the third work stoppage under the condescending guidance of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, including the entire 2004-05 season.
Let Fehr's brother, Steve, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly iron out any contractual issues. The billionaire owners should absorb the lockout costs because they turned the key.
There's time to salvage the season. The 1995 lockout resulted in a 48-game season that didn't start until Jan. 20. Drop the petty ego games and drop the damn puck.
Too much at stake
As bleak as it looks pucks will be dropped this season. There is simply too much money (a record $3 billion last year) at stake not to get a deal done.
A good sign came last weekend when, after rough negotiations Friday, the sides went right back at it on Saturday and Sunday. They seem in agreement on a 50-50 split of revenues (the last contract gave the players 57 percent).
Owners want the split effective immediately, while players are saying not so fast. In the 1994-95 NHL season, the players were locked out for 104 days before playing an abbreviated 48-game season. This time, an agreement will come sooner — sometime next month — and NHL fans will end up with a similar shortened season.
Shortened season looms
Los Angeles Times
As determined as the NHL seems to become irrelevant, there's still a chance its labor dispute with the NHL Players' Association will be resolved in time to play a season of 50 to 60 games.
Unlike the 2004-05 dispute, when the league needed a complete economic overhaul, the issues here are not that large. The league and the NHLPA have agreed on a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, a huge move.
Delaying free agency and salary arbitration a year aren't worth losing the season. But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants players to concede more, and NHLPA boss Donald Fehr believes they gave up enough in the last dispute and again in these talks. As usual, the fans are the biggest losers.
All hope seems lost
There are too many issues, too many egos and too few days left to save the 2012-13 NHL season.
In the roller-coaster ride that has been the negotiations between the league and players' union, things are at a standstill. The owners aren't going to settle unless they get the deal they want and the players aren't going to be steamrolled into an agreement that costs them now and in the future. Throw in the battle that oftentimes seems personal between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr and the prospects for saving the season appear lost.
The lockout will end next summer when players are threatened with a second straight missed season. So expect a long, cold winter at NHL arenas.
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