If the National Hockey League off season hasn’t been long and grueling enough – things could go even longer for the most locked out professional sports league in North America.
Since the start of negotiations after the NHL Awards show – the NHLPA through their executive director Donald Fehr said the union would be willing to operate under the current CBA to ensure that no portion of the season would be missed. The NHLPA has yet to respond to the NHLs proposal issued on July 13. If the NHLPA was playing hardball with the league by waiting a month to offer a counter proposal – if the league responds in a similar fashion, we won’t see another set of proposals until September 13th, just two days before the current agreement is set to expire.
Many were optimistic that the league and the union would be able to bridge the gap and get an agreement done because the sides were closer than when they locked out the 2004-2005 season. They are just as far apart now as they were 8 years ago. Player safety, revenue, salary cap, salary rollback all stand in the way of a signed CBA. Both Fehr and Bettman agree that a significant gap exists between players and owners when it comes to revenue sharing.
The NHLPA has told the NHL that they do not favor the model outlined by the league on July 13th.
If your looking forward to the the start of the regular season, you may want to do so with caution, and not hold your breath for the start of the NHL season, because it looks like the murky waters are starting to get even muddier.
The real issue here is that the fan has to suffer. If the owners take the back road on this deal, and end up losing revenue to the players – or they cannot get a deal done that lowers player costs (a goal of the league) – they could easily agree to a deal that does not favor them and charge the fan at the gate more to make up for their loss.
If the players can’t come to terms and agree to a deal, we get to spend another winter wondering what could have been – whose year it would be, and out of full lockout number 2 what will the next “Pittsburgh model look like”. I really just don’t want to have to get into another bent corner envelope debate.