NHL and NHLPA Need a Dose of Reality

Photo credit:Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
3 years ago
The NHL and NHLPA need to tread carefully as they continue to discuss the framework for a 2021 NHL season. I’m not talking about health precautions, as it is expected those will be a top priority, but moreso how they present the financial battles between each side. Fans are tired of hearing about it.
The NHL and NHLPA agreed to a new CBA last June, which would run through to the end of the 2025/2026 season. It was supposed to mean no more public discussions about the collective bargaining agreement and how they would split up the millions in revenue.
NHL fans have endured two lockout-shortened seasons in 1995 and 2013 and they saw the 2004/2005 season completely cancelled due to the NHL and NHLPA’s inability to agree on money. Make no mistake: that was the main sticking point during each negotiation. Sure, there were other details, but ultimately what led to games being missed was how to split the revenue.
I sense the majority of sports fans accept that the owners and players will make millions of dollars. There is the odd complaint about ticket prices as well as the cost of food and beverage, which is fair, but for the most part fans accept this as part of the “entertainment” fee.
They love hockey. They love the emotions they feel when watching hockey. Whether it is jubilation, sadness, frustration, disappointment or elation. Watching NHL hockey stirs up all of those, often during the same game.
In the thousands of conversations I’ve had with fans over the years on my radio show, at Oilersnation, via emails or in person, I’ve learned most fans are okay with, and not envious of, the salaries NHL players earn. They recognize and respect the skill and dedication required to play in the NHL.
However, they are tired of having to hear both sides bicker over millions of dollars. And now, during a pandemic, they, and I, have no compassion for bickering over how much money each side will or will not make.
We are in a global pandemic. It has impacted everyone in one form or another.
The worst case is death. Families have lost loved ones, and often they had to sit at home while their loved one died alone in the hospital with no around them. Some still haven’t laid their loved ones to rest.
Others are still suffering breathing issues months after contacting the virus. While others watched their 12-year-old son have his cancer surgery postponed because there are no hospital beds available. Or their 80-year-old mother broke her hip, but had to live at home in pain for five days until a hospital bed became available.
Families of health care workers see their loved ones put their life at risk every day while they treat the mounting number of Covid cases. Some of them aren’t even living at home for fear of spreading it to their own children.
Others have had to close their business; or even worse, declare bankruptcy.
Some have lost their job.
Others are struggling with loneliness while they stay at home and don’t interact with another human being.
Thousands are struggling with mental health challenges.
Virtually everyone has been impacted in some form or another.
I have the utmost empathy for everyone who has had their life turned upside down because of this. It has been a tough eight months.
Yet, here we are again, listening to the NHL and NHLPA bicker over how they will split the revenue.
Please grow up and take a look around you.
How come the NBA, NFL and MLB can figure things out?
How come they are able to have mature negotiations and renegotiate their CBAs without a lockout?
It is only the NHL and NHLPA who can’t. Every f$&@ing time.
Newsflash: if the NHL doesn’t have a season the league will suffer massively for many years in the United States. Even in Canada, you will turn off some of your most loyal supporters. Get a grip on reality, realize both sides will lose money and be happy you will still make more money than 98% of your loyal fans.
Fans are tired of listening to two sides bicker about millions of dollars, while many of these fans are struggling to pay rent or feed their children.
I love watching NHL hockey. I love covering it. But I’m tired of always having to hear about the hardships of the owners and the players. It is has been 25 years of living through lockouts and seemingly endless CBA talk. It never ends.
Most businesses have had to adapt on the fly during Covid. They and their employees found ways to work together to keep things going.
Yet, the NHL and NHLPA can’t. There is a clear lack of trust on both sides. I’m not sure it will ever disappear, but if it doesn’t, the NHL will wake up one day and the golden goose will be gone.
Imagine if the NHLPA and owners put as much work into forming a healthy and cohesive working arrangement as they did to make it to the NHL. The league would be much better off, but right now neither side seems capable of realizing many hockey fans are sick and tired of having to read stories and articles about how why the league isn’t playing. They are tuning out, and once fans start to tune out, some won’t come back.
Figure it out, NHL and NHLPA. Look around you.
Your competitors in the NBA, MLB and NFL find ways to work together. Of course they don’t see eye-to-eye on everything and we still read and hear stories about owners and players disagreeing, but they always find a way to avoid lockouts and play their games.
Fans realize the NHL is big business, but their love and passion is about what they see on the ice, not what happens in the board rooms.
Most of society doesn’t have have much to look forward to right now. Christmas will be different, and I understand why, but for the love of Gretzky, stop acting like petulant, hard-done-by children and get an agreement in place and start playing hockey. I could understand if you didn’t want to play for health reasons. I’d understand and respect that stance. But that isn’t the discussion we are hearing.
Your worst day financially is still better than 99% of fans’ best days. You need to remember this.
Give your fans a Christmas present, reach an agreement and start realizing how great your situation truly is.


A big thanks to Floyd for his generous bid of $6800 on the Furnace/AC unit package from A-1 Heating. Awesome.
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