You’ve probably heard that the NHL and NHLPA intend to open the dialogue toward tweaking the present CBA into a new one. Ever respectful of the lead advocates or PP QB’s, we’ll call this game Bettman v. Fehr.
It’s awfully hard to pick a side when millionaires and billionaires call each other greedy. Personally, I gravitated to law games because I absolutely hate bullies and thieves. I’m always on the side of the disadvantaged. And how typically American that is for this Canadian to admit. BTW, after the healthcare decision yesterday, you’re all Canadians now but I digress.
Like any other GameDay thread, let’s start with a bit about each side. Obviously Bettman and the Owners are the reigning champ in spite of continually offering up unforced turnovers that lead to breakaways by the players. This is to be expected whenever millionaires deliver documents, in this case a ratified CBA to their respective advisers with one purpose, get as much from this as you possibly can. The present CBA has been a win, win. It has worked for both players and owners.
It is critical to note here that the reason the expired CBA has worked is primarily due to forces far from the control and influence of the litigants. Revenue is up sure and that’s great. The losses or goals against if you will, have been reduced because of the collapse of the USD and corresponding rise in the loonie during the term of the present CBA. All five Canadian teams are profitable and actually helping subsidize some of their poorer American partners through revenue sharing. (Is Justin Schultz decision to sign with a Canadian based team healthy patriotism or ugly nationalism?) Canada subsidizes the USA in other ways. It’s why they sent you moi, but I digress, again
In previously expiring CBA there have been two work stoppages or lockouts under present Commissioner Gary Bettman. In Donald Fehr, Bettman and the Owners are up against the most talented organizer and advocate they have faced during Bettman’s term in office.
Bettman has placed a gag order on the Owners. Onlt the Commissioner or his designate will speak for the NHL, publicly and privately. OTOH, Fehr will work with a negotiating committee consisting of players from 19 different NHL teams, five countries and those at various stages of their careers. Twelve are set to become unrestricted free agents on Sunday. The negotiating committee will report to the NHLPA’s executive committee which is the player reps for each of the 30 NHL’s member teams. Fehr’s side is kinda like the Phoenix Coyotes who score and defend by committee.
Fehr has he said will enlarge this committee to guaranty every player that his voice will be heard. He has already invited every NHLPA member to address their concerns openly and publicly. This is actually no different than when Gabby says he likes to play everybody.
In practical terms, Bettman is guided by the need to ratify a new CBA among his constituency, which is 30 owners who meet in private. Fehr, by his own choosing, is operating under the scrutiny of the members and their representatives as well as us, the general public.
As news of the issues come out, this blog will be there with you. Until then I just wanted to get something up about how the respective teams play the negotiation game. This should be a good and hopefully short as both Bettman and Fehr are experienced hardball players. I suspect they can get this done in time for camps to open.
The players have already agreed to accept the 5% increase which extends the current CBA. Bettman and the Owners can accept anytime but so far at least have deferred. The drama queens in the media have spun this to suggest the NHL are using the pressure of a potential lockout to force concessions. Sparing you the detail, I can tell you there are other reasons one side might want and legitimately need time within which to act. Jeez, I just got a corporation a 4th continuance on paying an arbitration fee because there are issues other than pressuring the other side that we need to consider before we decide how we will proceed. The other side is going nuts but had to agree because their attorney will be out of the country on vacation. Dontcha just love summer, jeez, eh.
This post is based is based in part upon information readily available to the general public at tsn.ca