Tuesday, August 14, 2012


The thought of another NHL work stoppage scares the shit out of me.

Okay, first off, if the NHL misses even a single day of training camp, Gary Bettman should be fired. You know, third time's the charm (half of the 1994-95 season and all of the 2004-05 season). This guy is at least 1/3 responsible for the loss of an entire season for God's sakes. His responsibility is the entire league, and twice under his watch, work in the league stopped.

Second off, I don't trust Don Fehr of the MLBPA NHLPA any further than I can throw him. His record includes having lost a World Series.

And these are some of the principle names. Right away, that doesn't give me a good feeling inside.

Next, I'm looking at the owners. There's talk of another salary rollback, yet there are owners willing to shell out millions of dollars over many years (and much of that money up front in signing bonuses and first couple year salaries) to secure players in free agency (Minnesota, I'm looking at you). You can't have it both ways. Maybe the owners aren't on the same page.

Let me throw out a radical corrective solution or two. If there's owners calling for rollbacks in salaries, then I'm calling for rollbacks in the number of teams. That's called "contraction". In thinking about this, part of the reason why the NHL is having trouble is because it went into markets that it never should have entered in the first place. Tampa, Nashville, Phoenix, Atlanta (okay, that was rectified last summer), I'm looking at you. Look at some of the weaker markets where there are arena disputes and attendance problems (and just small geographic size) and see if the business would be better without them bringing the league down.

Another point is the slowness of the talks. It sounded like the NHLPA had requested some independent financial details from the league's owners, and that data was taking its sweet-ass time coming out for review by Don Fehr and company. This is contract talks. These figures should have been assumed were needed and gathered ahead of time. Time is valuable here. Training camp begins in mid-September. Negotiation time is running out. Don't waste it on waiting for numbers that should have been part of the discussion from before the beginning.

Bottom line in all this. The league cannot afford to lose any time. At least not as a business in the United States. They were the 4th league before losing half of the 1994-95 season. They were the 4th league before losing all of the 2004-05 season. They're still the 4th league. They need all the help they can get, and another work stoppage is not the answer.

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