Jan 072013
 

Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr announce that the NHL and NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement.

Just prior to locking out its players, the NHL, including Gary Bettman, assured team executives and sponsors that the upcoming labor negotiations would be nothing more than “a tweak and a fix“.

And looking at the details of the resulting tentative collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA yesterday, that certainly seems to be the case.

The new CBA includes tweaks to the league’s economic system; owners and players both now have a 50/50 split of hockey-related revenue. It attempts to fix the problem of backdiving contracts by capping contract lengths to 7 (another team’s player) or 8 (its own player) years and capping yearly salary variance to 35%. It left other contracting issues, like entry-level contracts, free agency age and arbitration rights untouched. It also left untouched the league’s underlying issues that some of its weaker markets will still have problems getting to the cap floor now, never mind 3, 8, 10 years from now.

If you look at a lot of these terms, they look like what most in the hockey world expected very early in the process, like, in the days shortly before and after the lockout. For some reason, it took the league 113 days to get to the same place. Because to get their tweaks and fixes, they first tried to perform major surgery with an insulting first offer that set things back for the players by about 10 years, and thus set the tone of the negotiations in a negative fashion. And instead of building on a record revenue season, they did much to tear the brand down with gamesmanship, rhetoric, insults and mudslinging.

The NHL could proclaim victory, having reduced the players’ share of HRR by more than 12% and getting a cap on contract terms. The NHLPA could proclaim victory, getting $300 million in make-whole or transition payments and having maintained their free agency rights.

But in the process, they also alienated a dedicated fanbase. In the last 113 days, some diehard fans have turned to casual fans and some casual fans have simply tuned out and moved on. Corporate sponsors moved on. Yes, most will probably come back to support the league, but certainly, some won’t.

So did anyone really win?

Especially when you consider how much damage was done to the NHL, it sure doesn’t look like it.

What was the point?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507341842 Ryan Lake

    Everything that came out of Fehr and Bettman’s mouth’s, including “tweak and a fix” is just bargaining. Every single thing they said or did it to try and gain leverage. 

    Sure Bettman is an asshat, but he did the job the owners paid him to do. His job is to be the lighting rod, deflecting negative press and attention from the owners to him. Having a hate on for him as many seem to, is akin to hating an actor because he plays a bad guy on TV. Lunacy. 

    Fehr was hired to do exactly what he did. Push back hard. Keep in my, the players who supposedly ‘lost’ the last round due to having a cap put in place had their salaries double since the last lockout. If that’s losing, sign me up because my salary didn’t double.

    The players who weren’t at the bargaining table who were speaking out against Bettman, and the owners were the ones out of line in my opinion. That is the kind of stuff that builds scars that are hard to heal. Bargaining is done at the table. Not by taking pot shots on twitter. You all lose when bargaining takes that turn.

    When you or I go on strike, or get locked out we walk the line with signs. When the Players got locked out they fled (not all) to Europe. 

    I’m sorry, but if you support your cause you stand in solidarity. You don’t run away to a far away land.

    Further, the average NHL career is just 4 years. That means the ‘average’ player gave up around 1/8th of his career NHL earnings for this when October 15th 50/50 was offered. 

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