A friend of mine asked me if there was any way I could write up a summary of the 113-day lockout for those who paid little to no attention to it, namely herself. Easier said than done, I thought, because it was such a drawn-out, mentally exhausting soap opera.
But then I thought that perhaps, if I could figure out a way to simplify things and make it understandable for everyone, this could be huge. Those “For Dummies” books are popular, so maybe this could be like a “Lockout for Dummies” primer. It’s amazing how much went on in only 113 days. It rather rivals the rejection and blah-blah-blah from the Republicans during the 112th Congress.
So here, for my friend Rhonda and anyone who ignored the show and just wanted hockey back, is a rundown of how it all went down, month by month.
June/July: The two sides start talking. The NHL gives its first proposal, which demands a paycut from and smaller share of revenue for players. It basically stinks, and everyone says so.
August: Players give their first proposal, which says “Okay, we’ll take a smaller share, but no paycut and you have to share your revenue with the poorer markets.” League laughs, raises their offer of revenue just a pinch.
September: Players make another proposal; league responds with “LOL NOPE”. Owners back the idea of locking out players, which they do on the 15th. Preseason is canceled. Meanwhile, a guy from Detroit Red Wings management calls the players cattle and gets fined for who knows how much (probably not a lot).
October: More games canceled. After marathon informal meeting on a Saturday between deputy commissioner Bill Daly and union counsel Steve Fehr, league offers 50-50 deal but says it’s “take it or leave it”. Players give a collective hairflip. Entire month of November is canceled.
November: The 2013 Winter Classic is canceled. League adopts a “no meeting unless they offer us something good” attitude. Players offer 50-50 split and a “make whole” provision for current contracts to make up for what’s lost. League does an eyeroll. Half of December’s games are canceled. Federal mediators come in, meet with both sides for two days and throw their hands up with an exasperated “OMG I can’t with you people.”
December: Big month. Giant epic players/owners meeting in New York. After three days and proposals from each side, owners throw a tantrum and flounce. Commissioner Gary Bettman calls NHLPA director Donald Fehr a meanie poo-poo head. The rest of December and the 2013 All-Star Game are canceled. Players give their blessing for Donald Fehr to dissolve the union if necessary. League files a lawsuit wanting the lockout declared legal and whines to the National Labor Relations Board that the players aren’t playing fair. Half of January is canceled. League gets scared that the union might actually dissolve and makes a new offer. This time, they’re willing to talk.
January: Federal mediator comes back and has probably lost some weight running between the players’ hotel and NHL offices trying to bring the sides together. The first deadline for dissolving the union passes, but the players give their blessing for it again. Finally, after a 16 hour meeting, a deal is done at 5 a.m. on January 6. A 48-game intraconference season starts on the 19th.
Basically, that’s the story. After all the tears, snark, name calling and frustration, the players are coming back. Details are being hammered out and the CBA has to be ratified by both sides, but we’ll have labor peace for at least the next eight years. Most of all, we’ll have hockey.