March 7, 2012; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (front) and ceo David Morehouse (rear) in attendance during the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs against Pittsburgh Penguins game at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Sunday Conversation: NHL Calls Recess. Have You Chosen A Side Yet?

Friday’s meeting in New York lasted 90 minutes with the NHLPA and the NHL (team Bettman), and ended in disappointment.  The two sides can’t seem to agree, make progress, which we thought had happened earlier in the week, and it seems as though a lockout is indeed going to happen.  Unless something or someone changes within the next two weeks.  No meetings are scheduled, however Donald Fehr and the NHLPA are remaining in New York  should the talks resume.  If we didn’t have enough posturing with the upcoming Presidential election, we’re getting more here.  Comments like this from Gary Bettman make it seem that the NHL is taking a very hard stance:

“Somebody needs to be in a position to offer or say something new,” said Bettman. “And considering that we made such a large move on Tuesday, to have gotten the response that we got is disappointing.

“We’re not in a position to go back and offer more and negotiate against ourselves.”

And then there was this:

“We’re looking for labour peace, we don’t like going through this process,” said Bettman. “It’s not fun for anybody.”

Fehr meanwhile has indicated the the PA is ready to talk when the Bettmans are, and feels that the players side has made some concessions, regardless of what the league has said.

No Gary this isn’t fun for anybody.  Especially the fans.  But you believe that they will be back no matter what, and no matter how long this takes.  Don’t be so sure of yourself.  Comments like these have made some people take sides, and I wonder what side you the readers are on.

Do you side with the owners?  Do you view them as a group of individuals united in this stance?  Now that they see how popular and how successful this sport has become for many teams, some seem to be convinced that they don’t need to give up (as they say) as much of the “pie” as they did before.  Remember too that the owners have indicated that if there is no agreement in place, organized training camp will not start on time.

Do you side with the players?  The actual “employees” of the league.  The product of the game, and the one’s that make the physical and mental sacrifices.  The players who gave up 24% of their salary in the last CBA, are being asked to give up more……again.  Yet they’ve made some concessions in this negotiation, they’ve also said that they are willing to play while a deal is being hammered out.

Should things not start on time, this is not a strike.  it’s a lockout.  The players are prepared to go to work, the owners are not going to allow it.  My personal opinion is that not all the owners agree with this.  As I commented previously, the lockout will allow profitable teams to hold on to more, while the teams that are constantly in the red, will lose less.  But what about the teams that are starting to make money, and get their following and fans back?  How do they feel?

Labor negotiations are always like this.  Both sides taking hard stances, and one side ultimately caving in.  The players caved in last time and it appears that they may have to again.  Gary’s right. This isn’t fun.  It’s depressing.  After seven years of growth, parity, exciting playoffs year after year, the sport is in danger of losing it’s momentum.  With the economy being what it is today, it’s hard for the average fan to side with the owners.  It’s also apparent the the NHL’s proposal helps the rich teams, while the NHLPA’s proposal helps the struggling teams.

This is a business, and for many of us that has become hard to understand.  Like any business the 30 owners need to make money, or be profitable.  I get that.  On the other side the players feel they should be rewarded, or have the opportunity to earn their worth.  I get that too.  The NHL hasn’t proposed a rollback of salaries per se, but a cut in bonuses if you will (revenue share).

Buckle up boys and girls as the two sides are calling this a recess.  Like the days of elementary school, here we are ready to choose sides for dodgeball.  Which one are you on?

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Donald Fehr Gary Bettman National Hockey League NHLPA

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