This is all so familiar. Yet so unnecessary. Another NHL lockout is inevitable. There is no escaping it. There is no way of stopping it. Yet this lockout, unlike the work stoppage 8 years ago, which wiped out the 2004-05 season, is completely unnecessary and worthless. Yes. I understand why the lockout happened in 2004. The system needed to change. The NHL needed a salary cap. No ifs ands or buts. The way the NHL was doing business prior to 2004, was spiralling out of control. Guidelines and rules were required. So I get that lockout. Yes, it was painful to lose an entire season, but the consequences of continuing under the old agreement reached in 1995, would have been dire for the league. This lockout has nothing to do with that.
In fact, despite the rhetoric you hear from the owners about hockey related revenue and wanting to keep more of the revenues generated by the NHL, this lockout has nothing to do with revenues or keeping salaries low. This lockout is about one thing and one thing only.
Power! Absolute Power!
Essentially, this is an attempted hostile takeover by the owners to have 100% control of the sport. The players, now knowing they are involved in a war, are fighting back and they now want absolute power. They see the owners as untrustworthy and corrupt.
So where are we at? It’s pretty simple. Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA chief Donald Fehr are involved in a staredown that will last a very long time. Neither man will budge. These two have fought labour wars before, and have the battle scars to prove it. Both are very smart, yet very stubborn. They want it their way and no other way will do.
Both sides are to blame for this mess. Bettman is delusional in thinking that the NHL is as big as the NFL. That’s akin to my chances of having a torrid love affair with Mila Kunis. Both are terrific dreams that are so far removed from reality as the distance from Earth to Saturn. The owner’s first proposal of wanting 57% of the revenues as opposed to the current 43% was mean-spirited and set the tone for the discourse of collective bargaining.
The NHLPA are no angels either. Remember back in November, when the league had a new re-alignment plan that made geographical sense? The players shot that down, striking the first blow in this dispute. It also hurts that the players waited until June 29, to have the first meeting with the owners on the CBA, knowing that the CBA expired on September 15.
The fans of course are the biggest losers in all of this. Sure the fans will try to do something. Petitions will be signed. Angst will be heard. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are already filled with petitions from angry fans, urging the masses to boycott the NHL. I have a message for you, it won’t work. In fact, those petitions and boycotts will only strengthen the resolve of the owners to lockout the players, knowing that the fans truly care about the sport, and will rush back when an agreement is reached, just like they did in 2005.
Don’t be surprised if there is on 2012-13 NHL season. It is certainly heading for that black hole. Bettman and Fehr are entrenched in their positions and neither will give in. Their egos won’t let them. The sport will suffer because of this. Power is a dangerous thing. I leave the owners and players with this thought.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.