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Lockout grows uglier by the day

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Bill Daly and Steve Fehr

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr have spent quite a bit of time together, but neither side seems willing to budge again though the NHL is clearly in real jeopardy. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

Another page is ripped off the calendar and we find ourselves at Day 90 of the NHL lockout. Chances are very good that this foolish interlude will hit triple digits, further damaging a league that was — long, long ago it seems — finally starting to gain momentum in the crowded sports landscape, and a greater degree of acceptance and interest among casual fans.

The biggest shots fired yet in this civil war — the possibility of the NHLPA filing a disclaimer of interest to disband, a legal move that could permit a judge to rule on the legality of the lockout and subsequently expose the NHL to anti-trust litigation — is now on the agenda with news Friday afternoon from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com that the union’s executive board unanimously approved a measure to authorize a vote among the players on the maneuver.

In response, the NHL filed a class action complaint in Federal Court in New York seeking a Declaration confirming the ongoing legality of the lockout. The league also filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that by threatening to “disclaim interest,” the NHLPA has engaged in an unlawful subversion of the collective bargaining process and conduct that constitutes bad faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your lawyers.

As Chris Johnson of Canadian Press reported, the exact same sequence of events took place in the NBA lockout last year. The sides reached an agreement shortly afterward, the owners changing their stance on “maybe 15 or 20 different issues,” according to Jeffrey Kessler, the lead negotiator for the National Basketball Players Association in that dispute. There is no guarantee this dispute will end similarly, however.

There is no word yet on when the NHLPA will put the measure to a vote. UPDATE: The voting will begin on Sunday and continue through Thursday. More details here.

Here’s an article from TSN’s legal expert Eric Macramalla on disclaimer of interest and what it is intended to do. And here’s his earlier story on decertification, which accomplishes the same thing as the disclaimer, but involves a longer process.

If the NHLPA membership approves the measure, Don Fehr would write a letter informing the NHL that the PA no longer represented the players. It would indicate that the players no longer believe they can reach a deal with the owners. It’s possible the threat of legal action could force the owners to negotiate items on which they have been holding firm. It appears, however, they could refuse since they have taken up the challenge in court.

“The consequences are you would not have collective bargaining anymore, so the owners would have potentially some antitrust exposure,” Richard D. Furlong, a Buffalo labor lawyer told John Vogl of The Buffalo News. “The owners could not collude and basically join together to set the price of labor outside the context of collective bargaining. There are exceptions in collective bargaining that would otherwise be illegal. So if you’re not engaged in collective bargaining, it would put the owners in a precarious situation with respect to antitrust laws.”

Furlong added, “The bottom line is that this has been done before by unions within the context of collective bargaining in sports, and it has put the employers back on their heels with respect to the antitrust statutes. (NHL Commissioner Gary) Bettman probably is and should be worried about this.”

Representatives of the owners and players had spent the last couple of days talking with Federal mediators, and no progress was reported. The two amigos, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr, were supposedly going to chat on the phone on Friday to figure out what comes next. But the PA’s plan may have changed everything.

This was already growing ugly. As Jeff Z. Klein reported earlier this week in The New York Times after speaking with advertising and branding experts about the impact of the NHL’s recurring work stoppages, “Even if they make rapid progress (in negotiations), the damage done by the third lockout under Commissioner Gary Bettman is likely to affect the league well into the future.”

The impact on surrounding businesses has been devastating, too, and The Buffalo News reports that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has prompted the local office of the Small Business Administration to host a seminar to provide strategies on how to survive the lockout for businesses suffering without Sabres games. Even President Barack Obama urged the owners and players to wrap it up, telling them to “Do right by your fans.”

Any sane person would think that there would have been some sort of urgency on the part of the engineers to get this bargaining train moving and finally pull it into the station. But, sadly, it is stalled again, and is now, perhaps, derailed. This development is bound to mystify many observers – like CBC’s Elliotte Friedman and Sportsnet’s Mark Spector — who evaluated what was known about where the talks have gone and perceived that a deal was within reach. All that was required was some judicious compromise on the part of the owners.

This could also further alienate longtime fans, who are calling for boycotts (like the “Just Drop It” group that in a few days has grown fourfold, from 4,000 to around 16,000 pledges to curtail spending on the league and its products), ranting on Twitter, and producing funny and pointed YouTube videos lampooning the talks.

“How hard can it be?” they’ve all wondered. “Why don’t they just get this done?”

Real bargaining has only taken place intermittently since July and it has often been highly contentious. The players have seen the NHL slowly move in their direction over time — despite claims by the owners and their surrogates that the deal would only get worse the longer the players waited. The owners have already gotten massive concessions and believe they can soften the players up even more by threatening a lost season. The gaps have closed considerably from where we started after the owners’ initial lowball offer, a miscalculation from which this process has never recovered.

For those directly involved, confusion, apprehension and anger continued to surface. One unnamed NHL governor floated an idea to ESPN’s Scott Burnside for a compromise deal and laid it all out. Meanwhile in St. Louis, according to Jeremy Rutherford of The Post-Dispatch, the Blues are worried that even a more favorable deal for the owners still won’t help that club’s situation.

On the other side, the Predators’ Colin Wilson told Paul Friesen of The Winnipeg Sun that he doubted  the sincerity of Commissioner Gary Bettman’s anger last week when the NHL broke off talks. “I still think he came out trying to look mad, sway the media,” Wilson said. “That’s what they do. Everything they do is strategic. I’m pretty disgusted by it. I really don’t enjoy him. He doesn’t care for the game.” It’s a widespread opinion of the commissioner.

“And therein lies your problem,” Friesen wrote. “The game could be burning down, with franchise pillars falling in major centers across the continent, but if the news came from Bettman’s mouth, the players wouldn’t believe it. No wonder this fight is so difficult: it’s not just about this CBA, it’s about the last one and the next one, too. The last time, the players lost a year and still caved to the owners’ demands for major pay cuts and a salary cap. Now that’s not good enough.”

No, it’s not, not if the owner’s main intent in this lockout has been, as Charles Pierce of Grantland put it in his scathing piece this week on Bettman and the NHL, to “pick off what meat is left on the carcass” of the NHLPA after the last lockout. That’s why, Pierce says, the PA hired Donald Fehr. Knowing the owners were coming after them for more, they needed — and he invoked a reference from The Godfather here — a “wartime consigliere.” (For some background on the owners’ nemesis, read this 1993 profile of Fehr by Sports Illustrated‘s E.M. Swift.)

These two sides have been warily sparring for months, presenting moving targets to each other, remaining elusive and hard to pin down. If there’s been no deal yet, it can only be because there was no willingness to get one done.

Like a number of people who have followed developments, Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer believes the NHL had a date in mind for beginning the season in order to play a 48-game schedule — early January. Until there’s a read deadline, he told NHL Home Ice on XM-Sirius Satellite Radio, “Each side is waiting for the other to break, hoping to squeeze out as much as it can.” Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo Sports called it “high-stakes poker or low-speed chicken,” although he doesn’t believe the NHL was going to announce a deadline, even if it had one.

At this point, however, a deadline deal qualifies as an optimistic scenario, if not an obsolete one. Last weekend, we looked at all sorts of potential plotlines and a few continued to stick in the craw. In one, the sides stared each other down and neither blinks at the deadline, losing the season. Since whatever comes out of this negotiation or potential litigation will set the ground rules for the NHL’s economics for the next decade, more or less, it was possible neither side was going to back down.

Another possible scenario looked at the owners’ other intent — to rid themselves of Don Fehr, break the union, and punish the impertinent players for being disrespectful of all they have done for them. That would motivate bad faith bargaining and willfully allow more pages to be torn off the calendar until a season-saving deal is too late. It would be aimed at getting the players to revolt against their executive director.

Instead, we are our way to the courts — or at least the threat of them if someone has a quick change of mind about the way they’ve been negotiating. That’s the initial idea behind the disclaimer of interest. But if this ends up in court, we could be headed into uncharted legal territory and, perhaps, a long winter without the NHL.

The further this goes, the uglier it gets, for the sport, for the business, for the fans, for those whose incomes and livelihoods are dependent on games being played. Could be that because it started bad, it can only end bad. We worried that this was becoming a slow-motion train wreck last month. Now we have to start worrying about how ugly this train wreck is going to be.

Here’s what I thought was the original

But the real original was by Robert Pete Williams (thanks to Jess Vermont for the tip).

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  • Published On Dec 14, 2012
  • 28 comments
    mark28
    mark28

    It is great thing not to have hockey at all this season and with the gods behind us never again .And if so no pads no helmets an steel edge sticks so we can rid the ice of players and no officials 

    GeoffreyHolland
    GeoffreyHolland

    Until the game is changed in major ways, it doesn't matter what sort of deal is eventually agreed on. The NHL will continue to be a sport on the level of roller derby until it eliminates "legal" fighting and also eliminates contact to the head. No other major team sport condones fighting like the NHL does. You fight in other sports, you're gone and you're suspended. Time for the NHL to get with the times, and only then will they have a remote chance of ever becoming a major force.

    midnitemgt
    midnitemgt

    This is a major sport with shrinking revenue do to several small market teams and very little wide TV exposure the management and the players need a reality check. Better yet let them all put on the skates slam one another into the walls then throw down the gloves just like a real game.

    KenSanders
    KenSanders

    This new concept - decertification - is complete lunacy.  Once the Lawyers get their hooks into anything they end up with HUGE HUGE HUGE BIG BIG money.  What idiots these people are - players included.  If the Owners locked the players out - the players should forego the season, take a year off, and enjoy their money.

    StephenCurtis
    StephenCurtis

    Man im disgusted. why did the owners have to cave? Why couldn't the players be the ones to cave on the 2 issues owners wanted in return for giving in on all other contract issues? Im sorry this is awful pro player. I want one writer to at least show a little bit of an unbiased opinon it would be a nice change. 50/50 is what the nba and nfl have why is it so hard for anyone to expect the nhl to get that. Why is it owners gave in on all contractual issues but wanted 5 yr tearm limits and 10 yr deal but in not giving players 8 yr contract limits and letting new deal be 5 yrs the owners are the bad guys. Please show some impartiality people. I think both sides are equally to blame that said fehr has done as much bad in this as the owners.

    hdogg48
    hdogg48

    "They wanna put y'all back in chains!" ---Don Fehr channeling his inner Joe Biden

    UleNotknow
    UleNotknow

    Don't they look like an obstinate pair of fools though?

    squidward247
    squidward247

    The sad thing to me is that before the short season of '94 the NHL was at the time firmly in 3rd. The NBA at that time was trailing by quite a bit. After that the NBA managed to beat down and climb OVER the NHL into 3rd and they've stayed there ever since. It is sad that during the last lock out ESPN started to show Poker and that gained more viewers than hockey.

     

    There were also less teams during the first lock out and there were more elite players per team. As the league grew the amount of lesser talented players were drafted and the elite players were now spread across more teams. Until the Red Wings of 2002 there wasn't (in my memory) a team as loaded with talent. You have players like Sean Avery and Colby Armstrong that really shouldn't be in the NHL and yet because of the amount of teams there needs to be players to fill the rosters.

     

    Contraction is the only answer to make the NHL viable and turn a profit. Eliminate 6 teams, bring the NHL to 24. Two conferences of twelves teams, with two divisons of 6 teams.

     

    Heres my simple way of figuring out who to get rid of:

    1) All original 6 teams are exempt (MTL, TML, NYR, BOS, CHI and DET)

    2) The 1968 Expansion teams are exempt (PHIL, PITT, LOS, STL, MINN and OAK) MINN and OAK eventually combined and that team then moved to become Dallas, therefore DAL is exempt.

    3) Any team that has won the SC two times or more and not included in the above 3 options. (NJD and COL)

    4) Any Canadian team not already included in the above 2 options (VAN, CAL, EDM, OTT and WINN)

     

    At this point we have 18 teams, only 6 more needed.

     

    5) This part is complex. You rank the teams based on years in the league, regular season success, playoff success, money out into the league, money taken out and many others. With this you then take the top six of the twelve teams left and viola you have a strong 22 team NHL. Each team plays each other other every year. 24 games total per division, 12 games vs. the other division in the conference and 24 games (home and away) vs. the 12 teams in the other Conference for a total of 60 games. The playoffs would change to a Best of 3, Best of 5, Best of 7 and Best of 7 for each of the four rounds.

     

    Just my crazy idea, born out of frustration at seeing teams like Nashville, Columbus and Atlanta far too often and this current nonsense holding up the game I love.

    greatnate68
    greatnate68

    To those who decry the players' need for or rights to union representation, you have to understand that union representation is not just about money.  There are a whole raft of reasons that anybody who works for a living needs a union.  I don't think you guys have any idea how much a union contract and union representation can do for any worker that avails him or herself of the benefits. So, it's not right to say that it's a joke for these players to have a union.

     

    Second, the owners' strategy in these negotiations is reminiscent of the old Russian style of negotiating which is best exemplified by a story I once heard.  Khruschev was negotiating with another country across the table, and he had his team bring a cow into the room.  The cow of course began to stink up the room with cow patties.  The other country kept demanding that he get the cow out of the room, and Khruschev finally relented and said he would take the cow out of the room in exchange for some significant concession by the other country.  Well that is what the NHL has done.  They made a horrible opening offer, and then they say they'll make it less horrible (they'll take the cow out of the room) in exchange for one provision or another.  And they expect the players to agree to that manure.  I think Don Fehr is probably not going to trade value just to get the stink out of the room.

    MattJanosko
    MattJanosko

    Stu, here is an excellent article about the Bettman/Fehr dynamic in this lockout written by well respected baseball writer, Murray Chass. Like your own columns, Stu, I enjoy Murray's columns just as much. Although he only writes about baseball he was asked recently his opinion of the NHL lockout mostly because Fehr came over from the MLBPA, was a disciple of famed former MLBPA leader Marvin Miller and also because he knows Fehr to some extent with Fehr running the MLBPA for years and has some insight into his methods and what ultimately is Fehr's constant success in basically all negotiations he's ever undertaken. If nothing else, I think you'd enjoy reading this.

     

    http://www.murraychass.com/?p=5565

    RonEdde2
    RonEdde2

    At some point, it doesn't matter who is making money and who isn't. The bottom line is the Golden Rule, and that is "He who HAS the gold, MAKES the rules." If the players want to make the rules, then they need to pony up and buy the teams and run them (probably into the ground) themselves. But unions never seem to learn until their members are all out on the street with stupid looks on their faces wondering what just happened.

    caseyryank9
    caseyryank9

    The NHL is truly an amazing entity.

     

    A distant 4th in the popularity ratings of pro-sports in N America, the league has yet had the good fortune of returning great rates of return for the owners' investment (of course it always helps when it's the rubes (taxpayers) who invest their future income (future taxes paid) in new palaces for the owners to cheer their teams to prosperity.... and the players somehow manage to earn multi-million dollar salaries year after year - and that's for the middling players.  The better players 'earn' tens of millions of dollars a year.

     

    With all that money; with rubes financing the most expensive investment any team needs; the owners still can't find a way to 'turn a profit'... and bitch and moan that the players have it 'too good'.  And of course they're correct - compared to the rubes the players do have it damn good.  But no one has it as good as the owners.

     

    And just like the NBA (and the NFL-the kings of piggish owners that teach the rest how to oink the loudest) the NHL braintrust determines a lockout is the best way to make additional money in the ensuing years.  

     

    Meanwhile those fancy arenas built on the backs of the taxpayer get a year older... a year closer to 'needing' to be torn down so the local owner can 'keep up' with his fellow owners in having the trappings meant for the local royalty that they are.

    Thomas Baker
    Thomas Baker

    The owners are not blame free, but the players are a greedy lot. Truth be known neither side will go broke or miss any meals regardless of the outcome. The people truly being hurt are the fans and the working folks that depend on the NHL for a living. The fans because they already pay exorbitant ticket prices, which will only go up when an agreement is finally reached, and the working folks for obvious reasons. Therefore, I'm calling for a POX on both their houses and have cancelled my two season tickets. For those who need a hockey fix, and are fortunate enough to live near an AHL city, I say check they AHL out. They play excellent exciting hockey at a much lower cost. I just purchased two tickets for the Charlotte Checkers for $20 each and those same tickets would cost $85 each for the Carolina Hurricanes.

    Rick in Huahin!
    Rick in Huahin!

    This will be the "new" NHL, and a better one!

    1-the players will gain more respect

    2-the owners will be more accountable and hopefully be more financial aware of how to properly operate a pro sports league!

     

    The probs were created by the owners, and they were seeking the players to bale them out.

    Since the league was formed, the players have been  the whipping boys of the owners. Unlike the other major sports, the NHL has not adapted to the new scheme of pro sports and its place in the socio-economic niche it  occupies in American society! did I really say that??

     

    In short, its hard, but in the end, this sport will be better for it and a road to build on!!!

    MattJanosko
    MattJanosko

    I'm beginning to think the owners actually want the damage done already and even more damage done to the game because that means more or even most of the casual fans walk away and the resulting loss of popularity means less revenue which means less money the owners have to pay the players. The owners have their TV contract...that's guaranteed....so they'll get that money....plus, basically all these owners have other business's which is what they made their fortunes off of so they will always get that....so they'll never hurt for money. Players have only a relatively short window....isn't an average NHL career around 3 to 5 years? Only the chosen few superstars have relatively long earning potential in all of this.

     

    This is beginning to look like 19th century labor negotiations.....and I truly believe the NHL wants to completely crush the union to smithereens. That way, the owners will make money no matter what, will pay players less citing less revenue and the owners will be able to do whatever they want whenever they want to the game and league.

     

    What a crock.....

    ErikSzpyra
    ErikSzpyra

    @GeoffreyHolland if the elimination of fighting is what it takes to be a 'major force', I'll gladly see it remain a minor distraction. Fighting is a part of the game.

    GeoffreyHolland
    GeoffreyHolland

     @squidward247 Viola? Erm no, it's VOILA. And the Oilers fit into section 3, having won what, 5 cups? Were you not aware of those?

     

     

    rmslives
    rmslives

     @Rick in Huahin!  Ridiculous post.  There is nothing to suggest the owners will be "more accountable."  Forcing a lockout actually makes them less accountable for their actions.

    RonEdde2
    RonEdde2

     @MattJanosko

     The owners SHOULD be able to do what they want with their businesses. That's why they chose to become OWNERS. Unions need to get a clue; employees do not dictate terms of employment to owners who offer a paycheck to someone. If that someone doesn't like what he is being offered, he is free to take his "skills" elsewhere.

    marc.naturephotog
    marc.naturephotog

     @MattJanosko 

     

     Like 19th century labour negotiations?  Seriously??

    Yes, definitely.  How did I miss this earlier?  It's just like crushing the miner's fledgling union with hired thugs.  It's almost as if the NHL owners want the players toiling in indentured servitude under a feudal system. Please, stop...you are killing me. 

     

    The notion of obscenely wealthy professional athletes even needing a union to protect themselves is a bit  farcical.  It's  a perversion of what a union was designed to accomplish and this chest beating outrage of well intentioned, albeit misguided, fans who rush to the defence of millionaire players vs. billionaire owners is fascinating.  This is not David vs. Goliath; it's Target taking on the  Wal-Mart evil empire.

     

    As for Stu Hackel, the next remotely objective and accurate account he provides of the dispute will be the first I have read from him. Quoting from the bizarre, if impassioned defence of Don Fehr in Pierce's article published in Grantland, was an especially illuminating touch: "picking off the pieces of the carcass of the union" left from  the 2004 lockout???  Wait a second... is this the same cadaver that saw it's players incomes increase by 70%  under the last CBA?  Hey, can you tell me where to find a carcass like that?  It will feed a pride of lions for a generation.    The irony is that the completely unanticipated windfall the players reaped under the prior deal has served to embolden, making them willing to lose a year of their career instead of taking the money on the table and running, ideally without a smug ear to ear grin, all the way to the bank.  

     

    As for smashing the union to smithereens, look closer:  the NHL does not have to do this, the players are already bleeding from self inflicted wounds borne of greed, pride and misplaced confidence in a Union leadership that has yet to recover from the internal backstabbing and night of the long knives in the last palace revolt.

     

    ErikSzpyra
    ErikSzpyra

    @frogman928 @greatnate68 Fortunately there is a widely acknowledged saying about opinions....

    LaneNighttrain
    LaneNighttrain

     @RonEdde2  @MattJanosko

     50/50 income split between owners and players, hard salary cap that must be spent, all teams are on an even playing ground and everyone benefits from increased income. That agreement could last until the end of time.

    MattJanosko
    MattJanosko

     @RonEdde2  @MattJanosko 

     

    Wow, thanks for that "eye opening" and fascinating little tidbit.

     

    Just think if there wasn't a union: no health benefits, no pension, no concern for player safety, forced to play and/or travel on holidays away from one's family, bound to a team for life upon signing first and only professional contract, traded at a whim and the drop of a hat despite having set up roots and family in a community for years, no agent to represent you, no negotiations regarding salary, no consideration towards players regarding travel, cut from a team and forfeiting of salary upon being cut despite already having a contract in place, no independent arbitration or grievance process for player disputes, total and illegal collusion by owners regarding player wages, no voice in how a players image and likeness are used by a team, etc., etc., etc.......oh, and despite being the main gate attraction that world class talent in any profession is, being paid peanuts while people will still be charged over $80 for the CHEAPEST ticket in the arena and television networks being charged millions to televise games, thus, earning owners like Jeremy Jacobs, who didn't make his money himself but just had the good fortune to be born to rich parents and inherited those millions through no work of his own, making billions of dollars a year.

     

    And what exactly are the other options for players who dedicated themselves at such a young age to being the best athlete they can be practically leaving no other skill-set for another career due to the high amount of practice and training it takes to be a professional athlete? Europe? Why do you think athletes from other countries come here? Because the money is good and they get paid what they are worth in a free market and are treated fair unlike back home where the money generated is nowhere near what is paid here. But that fairness and income is not the result of the owners generosity....it's because the union insures fairness.

     

    I also love how you put "skills" in quotations....as if these players don't possess that and anybody can do it....which, to that, I ask: why aren't you a professional athlete instead of commenting on Stu's blog on a Saturday night if you find their skill-set so trivial and apparently easy?

     

    Guess it may seem rather odd to you that practically every legal battle fought between players unions and sports owners in every single sport all over the world in history has resulted in player wins and a total and utter reaffirmation under law? Yeah, I can see how those owners are so "trusting" and "fair"....

    Stu Hackel
    Stu Hackel moderator

    Marc - Your belief that professional athletes belonging to a union is “farcical” and “a perversion” reveals everything about your beliefs toward democracy. 

     

    Employees in the U.S. and Canada – regardless of how much money they make – have an uncontestable legal right to be represented in collective bargaining and to have a union safeguard their rights under an existing collective bargaining agreement. To trivialize that as you do is a blatant denial of those rights. Clearly, in your view of things, NHL players, who have zero training when it comes to their rights in the workplace and to negotiate their salary, should revert back to the 1940s and 1950s, when the owners treated them like cattle, like easily disposable and replaceable objects, most of whom were woefully underpaid while they were the attraction that created the owners’ profits. Well, welcome to the 20th Century. You’re a little late.

     

    As for your mischaracterization of what Charles Pierce wrote, let me correct you: His alluding to the “pieces of the carcass” of the NHLPA has to do with the shape the union was in after the last lockout, which was pretty much in shambles and that’s why they hired Don Fehr.  It also has to do with the beating they took in the CBA, losing on the salary cap and having their share of revenue slashed dramatically.

     

    Yes, it is indisputable that they made strong financial gains in the last seven years, but that’s not what Pierce is pointing out. And they made those gains because of their efforts, putting on a damn good show and making the NHL more appealing than it has been in decades. Meanwhile the owners raked in record revenue from the players’ efforts, the best in the NHL’s history. Had the revenue gone the other way, the players’ salaries would have fallen. That was the CBA they were stuck with after the last lockout. They only did well because the owners did very well. The players salaries may have risen, but so did franchise values – the real measure of how well the owners do – to an all-time high.

     

    As for your other false charge, your erroneous perception that my writing about this stupid lockout has been one-sided, I suggest you do a more careful job of reading what I’ve written and the stories to which I link because your pro-owner perspective filters out the truth. I’ve certainly been critical of both parties equally for various things, like their courting the media, especially through leaks, when silence would have been the path most helpful to the negotiating process.

     

    I’ve not been unequivocally anti-owner – and I’ll refer you to my characterization of the owners opening offer, which some heatedly called a “declaration of war” against the players, while I tried to see it as the owners wished it viewed, as a starting point for negotiations. Subsequent events showed, I think, it looks like a terrible blunder by the owners, but I didn’t write that at the time because I’ve tried to be fair. I also praised the “moderate” owners who tried to help move the process along after the hardliners stonewalled it.

     

    And I’ve specifically questioned the PA on any number of things, for stalling at the outset of the talks (although the owners became the stallers-in-chief later on), for the players disrespectful attacks on Gary Bettman, for  Don Fehr glossing over important facts in his press briefings and for his simplification last week that a deal with the owners could be reached easily and shortly.

     

    And if you actually clicked on some of the other writers I quote, you’d find they have a wide variety of perspectives. But you don’t do that because it doesn’t fit your one-sided opinion.

     

    One thing I will say, however, about what I have written about this lockout, where my writing has taken me, is that it has been guided by where the events and facts have led. One cannot doubt the players have conceded a great deal in these talks while the owners have only moved off of that first harsh offer and have tried to make it seem as if that’s some sort of concession, which it is not. One cannot doubt that once the talks began, it was the owners who time and again refused to meet with the players to try and work on the CBA, not the other way around. One cannot doubt that the owners have repeatedly attempted to undermine the union’s leadership and flirted with illegality in doing so.  

     

    These are things I have stressed in what I’ve written because I believe they show when the owners have not bargained in good faith. I guess you believe that’s OK because you don’t think the players should even have a right to union representation. But, it’s not OK.

     

    You have every right to embrace your pro-owner opinion and detest the player if you choose; be my guest. But you don’t have the right to deny or twist the facts. And I certainly won’t stand silent while you or anyone misrepresents what I have written about them.

    MattJanosko
    MattJanosko

     @LaneNighttrain  @RonEdde2 

     

    Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that. Even in the scenario you present that doesn't take into account that with a 30 team NHL with teams in the current locations they are in franchises like Toronto or Montreal or even Pittsburgh make more in revenue than Tampa, Carolina, Nashville, Columbus, etc. Your proposal doesn't address revenue sharing which is clearly needed in an NHL of 30 teams. Sure, you can just say move then on contract them....but then that opens up a whole myriad of issues not to mention the massive blow to the reputation of the NHL on top of the damage being done to it's reputation by the lockout. Also, you're also not tackling the issue of player rights....free agency, arbitration, pensions, traveling and scheduling, term lengths, etc. It's not as much a black and white issue as you seem to make it out as....if it were this would've been settled long before the season was supposed to start back in October. Like basically anything in life there's so much grey area.....

    cipnyr
    cipnyr

     @Stu Hackel

     Stu, I don't always agree with everything you say, but I love the debate you have provided in the past when I comment and the fact that you participate in these comment sections. But in the above article, I must give you kudos on a balanced and informative article that not only provides your own analysis, but provides links to other articles of interest. Well done. I to started out recognizing the owners need for change, but have since changed my mind as this drags out over this long period of time and I am home watching reruns of bad TV shows rather than hockey games.

     

    As background, I am not exactly a union backer in anything. Oh, I do believe they were good for something years ago, but many have achieved what they needed to do. But, everyone does have a right to join one, no matter how rich or poor they are. Though, I must admit, rich sports stars in unions makes me cringe and laugh. But it is like the old saying, "I may not agree with your opinion (or joining a union), but I agree with you right to that opinion (join that union)."

     

    I think at the end of the day, the owners have gotten the players to give on a lot. I don't see much in the players favor so far here. The owners were right in asking for what they got at the beginning and won on those issues early. But, now that they got there foot, they want the entire yard cause of idiot hardline owners who can't manage their way out of paper bags. This is all being done to save them from themselves at this point. The owners should take what they won and get the damn game going. Everyone is now on a course of diminishing returns here and the game risks losing some diehard support in these troubled economic times.

     

    Mike Cipriani