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Lockout Outlook: Forget about it !!!
Everyone I know, fellow sports journalists, and friends who follow sports to varying degrees, frequently ask me if the labor dispute between the players and owners in the NHL will have a positive outcome anytime soon. The answer in absolutely not !!!
From what I hear, the owners dislike Don Fehr, head of the NHLPA, even more than they did Bob Goodenow, who they despised to the point where one of the major objectives of the last lockout in 2004/2005, was to have him removed from his role with the PA. The owners achieved their goals, and everything else they wanted in that battle, although as it turned out, the CBA turned out to be much better for the players than they ever imagined, with the salary cap rising to levels which could not have been predicted.
Had Don Fehr not delayed the start of negotiations, stalling until July, after Gary Bettman had requested his counterpart to begin negotiating after the new year, last January, it is entirely possible that the tone of the conversations between the two sides would have been much more positive and flexible on the part of the owners, and Gary Bettman.When the players association decided to hire Don Fehr, the NHL did their homework, and allegedly met with Bud Selig, Major League Baseball commissioner, who told the Gary Bettman everything he would need to know about negotiating with Don Fehr, regarding his tactics and strategy.
While the players are being asked to give up some of the gains they made in the last CBA, including a 7-10% reduction in their pay, as well as shorter contracts in terms of their length, and perhaps a push back in the age of free agency, they would be wise to recall that the length of the professional sports career is so relatively short, other than for superstars, and that the thousands of dollars that they are losing each day, will never come back to them.
If they were to take the pay cut from the owners, based on the way the owners have always operated, as soon as a new agreement is in place, the owners and player agents will no doubt find loopholes in the CBA, like they always do, and the players would be able to earn back the minimal amount they are giving up in a new agreement.
What the players are doing now is insane. There is now way they will win this battle with the owners. All they will accomplish, is lose money that they will never get back. This is completely an illustration of the expression we learned as kids, about cutting off your nose to spite your face. That is exactly what the players and Don Fehr are doing in continuing their labor battle with the NHL owners. As they say, you can’t see the forest for the trees. Too bad the NHLPA don’t seem to understand that.