As the calendar turns the page to September this weekend, the National Hockey League is quickly rolling towards doomsday.
The currently collective bargaining agreement is set to expire on September 15th, which is a very small amount of time for the league to avoid another lockout. As the days pass, it’s looking more and more like the route the league is willing to take. And they don’t seem to mind so much.
After the owners and players met again on Friday, Donald Fehr announced that the two sides have no scheduled meetings in the near future, calling off talks indefinitely.
Economics are responsible for the complete halt in talks between the two sides, as they can’t agree on revenue sharing or player salaries. Until the owners and players can agree on that, it’s apparently impossible for them to move onto other issues in a new CBA. The stoppage has led to a near certainty that a lockout is on its way, which would be the third work stoppage under Gary Bettman.
Views are different across the spectrum, but the argument could easily be made that the owners are more at fault here than the players. When you consider the fact that the current CBA is the one that the owners wanted back in 2004, it’s absurd that they’re asking for players to roll back their salaries, especially when over $100 million is being thrown at Shea Weber just weeks before the CBA was set to expire.
Teams signed players to contracts. Whether it was to a 15-year deal or a deal that was a drastic overpayment, they voluntarily signed these players to their current contracts. To now ask players to take a paycut this season, especially for the ones that signed their deal within the past couple of summers, is embarrassing.
As hard as it is to feel bad for the players, most of which are millionaires in their own right, you can understand why the owners are clearly going to take the big hit in the eyes of the fans here. And it’s completely understandable.
Is it possible that the league can agree to a deal before September 15th? Sure, but with talks stalled indefinitely, it looks like we’re heading towards another stoppage. And Bettman and the owners won’t mind. With their TV deal, they’ll rebound and even with the lockout, they’re still in line to get over $200 million.
The league will recover and they all know it. But to completely disregard the fans, who help to fund the league in more ways than one, is absolutely embarrassing for both sides. Either way, it looks like we’re heading towards another NHL lockout. The only question is whether or not it will cost us an entire season.