NHL AND NHLPA: OUT OF TOUCH

Maybe that is Gary Bettman, maybe it is Donald Fehr, but either way they both look like asses have their head in the sand right now.

The NHL and NHLPA are allegedly going to take a break from negotiating, further proving how BOTH sides are completely clueless on how much damage they are doing to the game. Even worse is that both of them, and sadly too many people on twitter, actually believe that the fans are on their side.

I can’t speak for every fan, but most are at the point of despising both the NHL and NHLPA. How can you actually be on either side at this point, unless you are a player, related to a player, an owner or one of his employees? I can’t see any reason to hitch your horse to either wagon.

Even worse is that the posturing, rhetoric and distrust have once again become the rallying cries for both sides.
The sad part is how many people are still trying to rationalize this lockout. I applaud you for trying, but let’s be realistic neither side truly wants an agreement. If they actually wanted an agreement, rather than trying to get the other side to blink, it would have happened by now.

Some of you will say this is how negotiating works, but is it is actually working?

Earlier this evening both sides sent out a press release after numerous outlets reported that Gary Bettman suggested they take a two-week moratorium since they’ve made no progress during recent negotiations.

The NHLPA released the following statement:  

"We believe that it is more likely that we will make progress if we meet than if we don’t. So we are ready to meet. If indeed they do not want to meet, it will be at least the third time in the last three months that they have shut down the dialogue, saying they will not meet unless the players meet their preconditions.

  "What does that tell you about their interest in resolving this," said NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr.

  The NHL, of course, needed to respond.  

"We are extremely disappointed in where we and the players find ourselves. And from our perspective, we have made repeated moves in the players’ direction with absolutely no reciprocation.  Unfortunately, we have determined we are involved with union leadership that has no genuine interest in reaching an agreement. Regardless of what we propose, or how we suggest to compromise the answer is "no."  At some point you just have to say "enough is enough," said deputy commissioner Bill Daly. 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

This is like a bad TV show; essentially the same story line every week. Both sides suggest the other one isn’t interested in getting a deal done, however, both try to convince hockey fans that they "really care about the game" and just want to play.

It’s becoming nothing short of a lame and pointless dick measuring contest. Except both of them have two inch rulers, so neither proposal is that enticing or measured with any accuracy.

I think most of us can predict what will happen in the coming days.

Sometime next week, likely Wednesday or Thursday the NHL will cancel another two-week block of games. The NHLPA will reiterate that no games needed to be cancelled, because they were willing to play and negotiate in good faith during the season.

Then, sometime before the proposed two-week break is over they will agree to meet and start another mundane and unproductive round of negotiating.

WHAT THEY NEED

Outside of a well-placed kick in the ass, they need a firm deadline on when the season will be cancelled. Both sides believe the other will blink first, so maybe a deadline ignites some serious negotiations, or maybe their inability to notice the incredible damage they’ve done to the game continues.

Either way, at least the fans can have some closure for the 2012/2013 season.

WHAT SAY YOU?

  • Is it just me or is the most infuriating aspect of this lockout the fact that they are fighting over money, yet they are losing millions every day. This is likely too simplistic of math, but if we say the season is 186 days long, 60 days for the playoffs and 14 for preseason that equals 260 days.

    If we divide $3.3 billion by 260 days that means they are losing $12,269,307.00 a day. Multiples that by 53 days (I subtracted 9 days of the actual 62 days since lockout started because preseason wouldn’t have begun until Sept 24th) and they’ve thrown away $672,692,307.00 of revenue.

    It must be nice to be able to walk away from almost $673 million.
     

  • Would fans be willing to ask for their season-ticket money back? Some teams have refunded the money, but many teams are holding it until the lockout is resolved. Would you ask for your money back, or have teams informed you that you would lose your tickets for good if you asked for a refund?
     
  • If that is the case, would fans on the waiting list gobble them up right away? Would you?
     
  • Will you rush back the minute the lockout ends? Will you cut back on the amount of games you go to, games you watch or merchandise you purchase?
     
  • Is it realistic to expect fans to stay away, or is the game to addicting?
     
  • Could you stay away if the Oilers made the playoffs?

At this point I’m not angry, but I’m disappointed that the NHL and NHLPA have shown there is a major gap between them and their fans and even sponsors. While they will tell you different, their actions clearly prove they believe their product is so strong it can withstand another lengthy lockout.

I honestly don’t know if they are correct or delusional, but I sense fans and sponsors won’t be flocking back as quickly or as happily as they did in 2005.

  • The Soup Fascist

    The fact is it is more important for each of these guys and their egos to “win”, than to do what is right for the league, players and fans.

    Neither of these guys gives a rodents rump about the fans or the game itself.

    While I believe the players position is far weaker in terms that they as a group will be hit harder than the owners if the season ends, the Fehr’s are unphased as they believe they are the smartest guys in the room.

    And smarmy little Bettman, who I am certain suffers from Napoleonic delusions, is as annoying and unlikeable a frontman that has ever existed.

    As a season ticket holder I feel like saying “pluck you all”, or words to that effect. But will I give up my seats? No. Because some naïve part of me believes I will forget all this when these kids start to put it all together on the ice when this mess is eventually settled.

    Hope. It is a blessing – and a curse.

    EDIT: …. and Hope is also a super hot, but apparently bat sh!t crazy, US soccer goalie.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    Jason – A couple of points to make, not on your conclusions or story, but rather on the finances. You say they are walking away from $673M but that is not strictly true, and there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding by every one discussing this issue as to the difference between revenue and profit. Profit equals revenue minus expenses. Expenses are player salaries and the running of the buildings, along with other items. If the teams have no expenses then they don’t need any revenue to offset them.

    The second point goes to the motivation of each side. If 2/3 of the teams are losing money as they say that means 20 of 30 NHL votes is actually financially better off every week that they aren’t operating. If you are losing $500k/week operating then you are happier not operating. On the other side, the players have no such equation. They lose, period, end of story. That is why the players will give in.

    • Jason Gregor

      I understand the difference. Since no one has been able to accurately figure out what the profits are I go by the numbers we know. They have walked away from $673 million in revenue, which means they’ve lost around 15% of whatever profit they’ve made. Either way both sides have lost money.

      And to say the owners aren’t losing anything is completely wrong. Ask Toronto, Boston, Rangers, Montreal, Vancouver and others if they haven’t lost anything.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    Sadly, yes! I will run back as soon as NHL hockey is back. #so ashamed
    But, I’m going to hold off buying tickets, jerseys and hats as long as my weak will can stand it!
    So, there goes another $129.99 the league will be throwing away (waiting longer to collect)!

  • Time Travelling Sean

    NHL is doing business with a union leadership that has no genuine interest in reaching an agreement. The NHL even says so in their statement!

    That is the most naive thing I’ve read in a while.

    Who gives a #@$% about the fans
    this is big business

    It is a big business because of the fans so they should give a #@$% about the fans.

    I could care less about them gaining or losing money
    as long as they are on the ice

    If they are bleeding money they won’t be on the ice or won’t be seriously competitive on the ice.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    they don’t care about the league or what happens to it, all they care for are the millions that they will get

    Sorry for nit-picking but the entire reason players train, travel, and risk long-term health is because they get paid millions and this a job to them. I’m a little surprised more players don’t do what Radulov has done and play for 2-3 times more in Russia instead of the NHL.

  • I dont’ understand how Bettman looks like an ass. The man is doing his job. He represents 30 billionaires that want to restructure their business. I really don’t see how that is a reflection of him, he is a lawyer and is doing what is asked of him and his firm. I don’t see how anyone should have animosity towards Bettman as an individual. I do not side with Bettman on this, I side with the NHL.

    We all know that the teams are ran by and owned by rich men. It would be a safe bet to assume that these rich men keep tight circles of lawyers, executives and all sorts of managers and advisors-men who know how a business is structered and should be ran. It would also be a safe bet to assume that the owners are in the full know how on what is at stake and how it is and should be achieved.(I could not say the same for the players)

    But, the better question is: who is behind the players? It can’t be Fehr, no. He is their front man, he is their Bettman. What exactly is their end game here and how it come about? Who are the real catalysts here? It can’t be Fehr and his firm, can it? Most of these players are fighting for things that don’t matter to them and the rest are just not giving a #@$% and playing elsewhere, they don’t care about the league or what happens to it, all they care for are the millions that they will get when they return to play hockey in N.A for fun. Most of the players don’t care about the teams they play for nor do they have a sense of loyalty to them. Since they don’t care about their teams and their league: where does the nerve to have say come into place? The owners want better structure of their business and the way it is ran, I don’t understand how players feel they have a say in that.

    I don’t think both sides are “clueless” about the damage they are doing to the game-where did you gather that information from? Despising is a strong word, you should only speak of despise on your own behalf.

    The NHL has an agreement, the NHLPA won’t agree to it. NHL is doing business with a union leadership that has no genuine interest in reaching an agreement. The NHL even says so in their statement! What the #@$% does the union want? I wonder if they are as confused as I am.?

    I would say that the PA is working hard to convience the fans that they “just” want to play. I guess when you don’t have much fight in the boardroom yo better take it to the streets.

    Why do they need a deadline? Who gives a #@$% about the fans and closure, this is big business we are talking about here. I don’t understand why all that b.s about the numbers lost and blah blah blah should matter to the fans. I am a fan of the Oilers! I could care less about them gaining or losing money, as long as they are on the ice trying to win is all that matters.

    • Jason Gregor

      Interesting take. So you think the NHL was fine to continually overpay players, when they didn’t have to, and then give an extremely low-ball offer to start the negotiations.

      And they aren’t on the ice right now, so you should care, no?

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        Jason, do you expect the hockey players playing in the Stanley cup playoffs to play by the rules. No, you know and expect those players will do anything to win both within the rules and even outside the rules. Then why would anyone expect the GM’S and owners not to compete just as hard in the only why they can, by using money and even loop holes to try an assemble a winner. It’s funny for years before the first lockout players and fans would always refer to the teams that would throw money around as having “ownership committed to winning”. The fans, agents and player but these people in no win situations. The CBA negotiations is really the only time when the owner can realistically and legally, reign in their collective spending habits and say no mas to the players. And we can see how we’ll that has been received.

        P.s thanks for being one of the few media for asking tough questions, or pointing out how ludicrous the players logic has been. You have even given your buddy Struds some trouble, well done. I realize you are a little more neutral than I but maybe I can pull you over to the dark side.

  • What I can’t understand is those players that are losing big dollars not speaking up?

    Players that were in both lockouts and players that are nearing the end of there careers.

    What does Iginla stand to lose? 15 million dollars over two lockouts! I would be on the phone to Fehr every day asking what the hell is he actually doing!

    The end result won’t get there money back or refund dollars lost.

    I would be sick to my stomach if that was me losing that kind of bread.

  • Starving Student

    The cynic in me HOPES that the season gets cancelled! That BOTH the owners and players lose enough to last a life time! That they sign a CBA for MORE then 6 years. Both sides need to learn that they can’t take fans for granted, 3 work stoppages in my life time already… ridiculous.

  • Muji

    NHL owners and NHL players – for whatever reason (lack of trust, grudges, lack of education, greed, whatever) – both really, really suck at negotiating.

    You’re saying, “well duh”. But that’s all there really is to it. It’s disappointing.

  • Your math is too simplistic, it’s been said for years that a big chunk of teams LOSE money during the first 10-20 games of the year….

    they are burning through those games, and will reach a deal around xmas time

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Is that factual or just hearsay?

      Gregor’s numbers make sense caused they are based on actual numbers. Until you show proof of what these “teams” lose, then no one knows. Let’s focus on actual proven numbers.