Before the lockout, I made a decision not to share my thoughts on the labour dispute here on Oilers Nation. After a couple of chats with friends at Christmas parties this weekend I can’t hold my tongue anymore. I couldn’t believe how far off some of my friends were with their information. I need to get my viewpoint out there so I can offer an alternate point of view to the player bashing that is happening right now.
As a former player and member of the NHLPA it should be no surprise that for the most part I am strongly behind their position. I agree they all do very well for playing a game. I think the players are willing and understand that a redistribution of revenue is required. I believe their concern is ‘Will this CBA be another short term fix or long term solution?’
After the last lockout, Gary Bettman made it very clear that the burned year was required and worth it because it would fix a broken system. Well, seven years later the NHL is at it again. Is there any reason to believe this lockout won’t lead to another in however many years? With Bettman’s track record, I am not holding out much hope. But I want to concentrate on this lockout!
I get that all fans are frustrated. We all enjoy watching hockey and this lockout sucks. It is very hard to understand what both sides are after. To be honest the media and fans are trying to read through the tea leaves as to what is really going on inside those meetings.
I don’t think anyone outside those meetings really knows. Sure there are some "insiders" that may get a line or two from a couple of meeting participants. They report on that fraction of info that comes from a whole day’s worth of negotiations. I have a hard time believing it is the entire picture.
Then the rest of the world takes those nuggets of info and run with it! It takes on a life of its own and pretty soon the meetings are declared great or brutal. I can tell you from going through the last lockout what is reported in the media isn’t the whole picture, this time is the same.
The players are taking a lot more hits in the PR battle these days. Emotions are running high for fans and media alike. This weekend I heard a comment that was surprising: ‘Why don’t the players take what the league is offering them? Look at how far the owners have moved towards them.’
In my opinion this is very inaccurate. The players are the only ones who have moved. Why? In terms of losing ground on last CBA deal the players are giving up everything. Even if you think that the players should give up everything you have to admit that my statement is true.
In terms of actual dollars will any of the owners come out worse than they were last year working on the last CBA they made up and signed? They won’t! Not a dime. But the players will. Yes, the owners have moved from the opening offer but that was so far from reality I believe they did it on purpose so it would look like they are giving up a lot as time passed. In reality they will be gaining everything. It is a one way negotiation.
Let me give an example of how the players are feeling. Let’s say you are selling you house for 500k. I give you an offer of 250k. Does that offer put you into a good negotiation mood? You reject it. Two weeks later I make another offer of 275k. You reject again. I offer 310k. You ask for an opinion from your real estate broker and he says, ‘ Yeah take it. Look how much he has come to you’. What? It’s still so far from where you started that you would rather burn the house down then sell it for that!
That is how the NHL is working. Yes they are moving towards the players but they are using house money or in this case money from the players.
At the end of the day this is a very public negotiation. Emotions are running high for everyone involved. But take a second, step back and put the dollar figure aside. If you look at it strictly from a pure negotiation standpoint you might get a better understanding of why the players are frustrated. They are the ones giving up everything! Is that how you would want to be negotiated with?
Put away the stupid ‘millionaire vs. billionaires’ slogan. I really do hate that phrasing. This is a dispute between owners and employees. It is simply a negotiation, nothing more. The employees in this case feel like they are being pushed around by theirs owners. Do they not have the right to stand their ground?
I do believe that the players will need to take a haircut on their salaries just like last time. In 2005, we took a 24% rollback. Although that was very high, I don’t expect that to be the case this time. It isn’t that I want it to happen but at some point it just makes sense to move forward.
I still expect a deal to be reached. There will be a NHL season this year. Both parties have too much to lose if another year is wiped out. How will a fifty game season look? I think we will find out soon who has been preparing and who hasn’t. A sprint season like the NHL could have will quickly reveal who has been naughty or nice!
It doesn’t matter to me if you agree with the players or owners or hate them all, I ask that you look at this dispute in a different way than you have been. Set the emotion aside and realize what this boils down to… a very public labour dispute. That’s it!
I think it is great that the Nuge will be playing for team Canada at the World Junior Championships this Christmas. What a great experience for him and his family! Not many people get the opportunity to play for Canada at this tournament and I don’t remember hearing anyone say they regretted going.
What a chance for him to play in an intense setting. With it being in Russia it won’t be the same but the expectations for Canada are, GOLD! He could actually get two such intense runs this year. If the NHL starts, the Oilers could maybe make the playoffs but if the NHL doesn’t go he is guaranteed AHL playoff action.
Developing a winning swagger is very important for not only Nuge but the whole Oilers organization. There is a difference in saying ‘we could win’ and knowing ‘we will win’. I am all in favor of any experience for any Oiler in the system that helps them develop that swagger.