With NHL Lockout Looming in a Matter of Hours; Who's to Blame?

By Marc Jenkins
The Lockout King
Brad Penner-US Presswire

Here we go again, just another sad song that seems to have no end. If NHL fans were writing a song about how the Gary Bettman era has gone that would be the hook, the title of the smash hit would obviously be the Lockout King. Maybe they could get Timbaland or Kanye West to produce the track and sample the Awimbawe song from the Lion King motion picture to really sell and drive home the point.

What point is that you might ask? The point that NHL Commissioner Bettman is the undisputed, unopposed, dominant king of professional sports lockouts. What pro sports commish does workstoppages like Bettman both the amount under their tenure and with such great lack of style. He’s got my vote by far or does he even really need it? He’ll probably try to stop this article as I’m writing it and proclaim himself king.

If the NHLPA and owners don’t compromise on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by midnight (just a few short hours away) then the National Hockey League will be headed for its third lockout underneath Bettman’s watch which began on February 1, 1993. The previous NHL lockout cost fans, players and others the entire 2004-05 season and it seems as if we coud be headed right back down that road again with the owners and player’s association miles apart on terms.

Bettman says that there is no chance a new season will start without a deal (as he did in ’04-’05) and also says that “two other leagues (the NBA and NFL), their players have recognized that in these economic times there is a need to retrench” to support why yet another NHL workstoppage is justified. The previous lockout resulted in the construction of a new CBA that saw the players endure a 24% rollback of their salaries and now the owners and Bettman (after all he is employed by the owners) to want to take even more money out of the players pockets and food out of their families mouths; simply disgusting!

The preseason was set to begin on September 23rd and the first puck for the regular season was set to be dropped on October 11th but it seems as if there is zero chance of that happening. The owners want to scale back the amount of hockey related revenue from 57% to 47% which doesn’t seem that unfair on the surface but once you take into account the fact that the players don’t nearly get as much endorsement or broadcast money individually or collectively that players in the other three majors (MLB, NBA and NFL) do then you see exactly how unfair it is.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr is requesting a guaranteed number of $1.8 billion for the players to split amongst them. Since the owners are talking percentages and the players are talking dollars that shows exactly how far apart the two sides are, complete apples and oranges. If the name Donald Fehr sounds familiar to any of you boys and girls out there reading this that’s because it should, Fehr was the executive director of the MLBPA from 1985 until 2009. He was the linchpin in the 1994 MLB strike that got the players what they wanted and is now the reason why the MLBPA is considered by many as “the mob”. Fehr took over as the executive director of the NHLPA in December of 2010.

But back to Mr. Bettman, the Ironed Bar Ruler. He received many of his tactics under the tutelage of a one Mr. David Joel Stern. Bettman served as senior vice-president (third in command) of the NBA from 1983 until he took over as the NHL’s first commissioner in 1993. Hard ball is something that this guy is used to and since the puck is the hardest of the playing tools in the four pro sports, Bettman must feel right at home ruling the ice with such an iron fist.

It sucks to be an NHL fan right now because they’re about to lose more precious game time, the only thing left to do I guess is just dethrone him, but who’s got the know how to run the NHL and the stones to do that? Anyone out there? Anyone?

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