Currently, the NHL and the NHLPA are negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. If a new proposal is not accepted by September 15, the NHL will officially be in another lockout, the second in ten years. Last month, the NHL proposed a new agreement, but it was not viewed as a realistic compromise between the two parties.
The NHLPA responded by completely ignoring the proposal and come up with one of their own, which the league has dismissed.
Both sides are ready and willing to fight for the best possible outcome for their party but who is fighting for Hockey and who is fighting for money?
Chris Campoli, a member of the NHLPA’s negotiating committee and a Defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, told the Toronto Star:
The industry’s grown a billion dollars since (the lockout) and basically they just want more money.
I just think they took such an aggressive stance with their first proposal, said Campoli. We could have taken an aggressive stance the other way and we didn’t. You know, we want to fix the systematic issues they have with the way things are run and I think we’re being more than fair.
Both sides seem to believe that they’re asking for something reasonable. The league grew by 7 percent during the 2011-2012 season, so it can be expected that the owners would want to cash in on that. Yet, it’s not custom to ask talent or employees to take cuts after a good year.
The proposal that the NHL put on the table was pointless. The NHL was essentially doing almost nothing to progress the situation with that agreement. The players just took a pay reduction in 2004. One source told the Toronto Star, “NHLPA felt it was designed to, “anger and provoke” rather than kick-start meaningful discussions.”
The NHL could potentially want to go into a lockout because they believe that the players will cave like last time. They’re willing to sacrifice apart of the season for financial gain. While, important members of the hockey community, like Doug Gilmour and Pat Quinn agree that a lockout must be avoided at all costs. A lockout could backtrack the progress and growth that the NHL has experienced.
In defence of the NHL, players do take a higher percentage of revenue, 57 percent, than NFL or NBA players do. However, they also make less than basketball or football players do. But, it’s often forgotten that not every player is making millions of dollars per year. For every superstar, there is a bench of players who are unsure if they will even have a job next season.
Hockey players are commonly drafted right out of high school or just after that, rarely having the opportunity to finish college, if they are able to attend at all. If a player signs a two-year or three-year agreement at the minimum contact and is never offered another contact, then he has 40 years to live off that until retirement.
At this point in the negotiation process, the NHLPA is leading the NHL 1 to nothing.