If there is one subject I would love not to write about, it would be this one. The NHL and the NHLPA are still struggling to find middle ground on almost every issue in this year’s collective bargaining talks, and another lockout is staring hockey fans right in the face.
Since every major league in North America has gone through this song and dance, hardly anybody is caught off-guard that there would be another dispute, especially since the NFL and NBA went down to the brink so recently. The story is not all that unfamiliar: the owners want to turn a better profit, and the players want a better wage. But it’s never that easy to just look at the numbers and arbitrarily decide who is right and who is wrong. If so, these lockout scares would never happen in the first place. Both sides have good points, and both sides have good counterpoints.
The only thing obvious in these discussions is that there is a pervasiveness of money-grabbing and time-wasting in these negotiations. Owners are not going out of their minds to keep the upcoming season according to schedule – their hockey teams are not their only source of income. Meanwhile, players also know they’ll be getting paid with or without hockey – their contracts are not held to the mercy of a lockout.
Yes, both factions will do just fine with or without a lockout. The owners can continue to profit from their side projects, and players still get their money, same as before. Heck, they could make even more if they went to play in Russia or Switzerland while everything is being sorted out.
Everyone except the NHL fan will be tended to if there is no hockey. He or she will have no product to watch and a horribly decreased hope in future CBAs. We the fans would be getting screwed, again.
And even as players and owners continue to receive their “fair share” as these negotiations continue, both sides have the audacity to appeal to the hockey fan through their press releases, each side trying to blame the other for holding up talks and being generally unreasonable.
I’m just going to go out on a limb and say that the fan is not being considered at all in any of these CBA talks. The owners are demanding the players play harder in the corners, and the players aren’t demanding that the owners drive down parking prices. From the Olympics to the revenue sharing to the entry-level contracts to everything else, the NHL fan is being totally ignored.
The assumption is that the fans could return after the lockout, and it’s a safe one to make. We fans love our sport and our team too much to not return. Even after another achingly unnecessary lockout, fans would continue to contribute to this $6 billion money-making machine.
And that’s what is so bad about this situation. Even after potentially another lockout, the NHL will still be raking in the cash. So don’t feel bad for the owners or players if one or both gets the short end of the stick im collective bargaining negotiations. Feel bad for the hockey fans. They deserve better from the league and player association than what they are getting now.
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