In my NHL, Inc. – Part One series, I explored the NHL. Part Two explores the National Hockey League Players Association a/k/a the NHLPA.
The NHLPA is the union that represents its’ members in contractual and working conditions. It also serves as the exclusive Collective Bargaining Agent for the players (who are called members). They have the say on what the players agree on and will accept in the Collective Bargaining Agreement a/k/a CBA.
The union has been represented by numerous Executive Directors. Donald Fehr is the current one, but it was Bob Goodenow who presided over the last three lockouts. The lockouts in 1992, 1994, and the infamous 2004 one were all on his watch. In 2005, he stepped down and submitted his resignation in June of that year.
Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman are doing exactly what they are being instructed to do. The players have the ultimate say in what Donald Fehr does, while the owners of the 30 NHL teams have ultimate say in what Gary Bettman does.
Gridlock happens, and nothing gets accomplished, when you have two parties that have to represent to the best of their abilities what the people they answer to want. The lockout happened because the owners, or atleast most of them, did not want to operate under an outdated Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The owners, through their Vice-Presidents and General Managers, have been handing out ridiculous contracts to players, to either keep them or two sign them on. , Afterall, it’s all about winning the Stanley Cup… right?
Players are in it to play, make money, and also to make a name for themselves as the careers of hockey players (when they are actually on the ice) is very short. They can make alot of money, even after their playing careers is over. The owners are in it to make a profit as they cannot subsidize a team that is losing money forever.
With that being said, when you have two sides with different agendas, and need to be satisfied with the economics of a CBA, it can cause problems. The NHL and the NHLPA are equally to blame for the current lockout. Every time they have had the opportunity to resolve the economics of playing the game, they put a short-term band-aid on it. This is now their time to get it right.
NHL, Inc. – Part Three will explore how I propose to resolve what is going on.