”The three important elements of hockey are: forecheck, backcheck and paycheck.” – Gilbert Perreault. Check it out iceman; the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Famer pretty much had the game’s checklist down to a tee.
The current NHL lockout has replaced those aforementioned hockey terms with other non-hockey words which do not interest most fans. With the current work stoppage, keeping with the rhyme theme, fans are now being peppered with negotiation, mediation, decertification and compensation. This is a no doubt a sign for many disillusioned fans to tune out, drop out and check out.
After negotiation failed, both the owners and NHLPA representatives agreed to non-binding Federal mediation, which in the past has proven to be as successful as trying to score a goal with a broken stick. Clueless mediators gave the two parties absolutely no input on how to settle the disagreement, as this route was probably more about show than substance. Next.
Once mediation failed, the talk then swung to decertification. Apparently, it involves the revoking of the authority of the players union to bargain for all of the players collectively. That is about all I know about decertification, and quite frankly, care to know. Hey, I am not a lawyer type making a buck on this complicated labor law crap, so why should I waste my time digging through this garbage?
Coming off the last collective bargaining agreement, the owners have been on a juiced up Zamboni power trip. Their previous expansion of the game into apathetic markets where fans do not know the difference between a frozen puck and an iced puck has not helped much at all. And most telling of all, the owners want the players to pick up the tab for their idiotic risks and perpetual poor spending decisions.
So, if the latest round of negotiations fail, let’s get on with this decertification thing because all hockey fans are just itching to digest months of exhilarating news about legal battles and labor law. And if decertification is successful, well, you fill in the blank because I have no idea what happens next. Pretty soon, I will be as apathetic and indifferent as those non-existent hockey fans in American states with temperate climates.
The problem is the owners want their cake and they want to eat it too. The longer this lockout persists, the only thing the owners will be eating is a bunch of financially unsustainable franchises. The American Sunbelt has melted the NHL’s ludicrous pipe dreams of pushing the game into alien markets and reaping bucket loads of cash from television revenue. In case they have not noticed, it ain’t happening and will never be happening.
So while the players explore decertification, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners at the bargaining table should explore becoming positively certifiable. For hockey fans, mediation and decertification will probably only lead to more frustration, so let’s hope negotiation can save the day.
Until the locked out players find out when they can go back on the ice and collect their next paycheck, the terms forecheck and backcheck will remain in a deep freeze for the NHL and its fans.