The NHL is stuck in its third-straight protracted lockout during collective bargaining negotiations since Gary Bettman became commissioner. With negotiations having broken down, missing a second full season in nine years seems probable. Here are a couple facts that don’t sound promising.
Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, called five-year player contract limits “the hill we’ll die on.” The war metaphor exhibits the combative tenor the negotiations have taken. To use another martial metaphor, the owners seem more concerned with winning this battle than the ultimate war.
Rangers forward Brad Richards claimed the owners were not even present for the latest negotiations. Not like the situation is urgent or anything…
“It becomes more obvious that it is ultimatum style negotiating,” Richards said. “(The owners) weren’t even in town to negotiate tonight. Owners and player meetings went well but we needed professionals to close the deal and thought that’s what we were attempting to begin to do. To hear we said if we get a pension deal then we agree to everything they want is a bit confusing, but hopefully both sides step back and realize how important it is to get back to the table ASAP.”
The league’s ultimate problem is not hard to decipher looking at the team by team financial data. Teams in Canada and natural hockey markets in the Northern U.S. are making money. Teams in the south, mostly misguided expansion and relocation projects under Bettman in the 1990s, are hemorrhaging money. Those owners are better off not playing hockey. The true hill the league “will die on” is not contract limits, but being unwilling to acknowledge or to correct the catastrophic mistakes made during Garry Bettman’s tenure.
Bettman began with the NHL as the fourth major sport. Have any casual hockey fans even noticed its absence? Does a casual hockey fan even exist anymore?
[Photo via Presswire]
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