By Bryan Scott
Hockey fans having deja vu of 2005 with NHL player lockout looming
The pending NHL lockout is haunting the dreams of many hockey fans, although it may give a few teams a chance to clear up any question marks they have going into the season (e.g. the Canucks). The thought of having to go through another slushy winter without a glorious NHL season sends chills up my spine. Unfortunately, we as fans are stuck on the outside looking in as these unbelievably rich men toy with our emotions.
Big Bad (Gary) Bettman seems to be the man standing in the way of any amicable relationships between the NHL and the NHLPA as he attempts his hat trick in locked out seasons. He locked out the players for 104 days during the 2004-2005 season, which cut the season to 48 games and no one will forget the 2005 season. Hockey-less winter is not an option for the fans. But Gary Bettman is sticking to his guns threatening to lock out the players if a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is not met by the time the current one ends on September 15th.
The proposed CBA by the NHL about six weeks ago was a demanding one; the owners think that players earn too much of the teams’ revenue. The NHL proposed that the players revenue drop from 57 per cent to 46 per cent to try to help the suffering owners like Phoenix Coyotes (owned by the league), and New York Islanders. They also proposed contract limitations (which limits their job security), and contract rollbacks (causes players to get less money than original contract) which seemed to rub the player’s rhubarb the wrong way. After the player’s counter proposal with help from NHLPA Executive Directive Don Fehr, the NHL was not impressed. According to the NHL and Gary Bettman there was a considerable gap between the two sides.
As of August 29th, the NHL proposed a new CBA proposal, which they claim is generous. The players will still see a drop in revenue over the first three years of the CBA but will make it up when they switch to 50-50 revenue sharing amongst the players and the owners for the remaining years of the contract. Their piece de resistance has no rollbacks on any contract, which means that Crosby will still make $8.7 million a year (Golden Boy needs his number). Also, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter would keep their new 13-year, $98 million deals with Minnesota. There are many other stipulations in the proposals that will extend the negotiations, regarding rookie contracts, free agents statuses and more.
If there is still a lockout after this proposal, everyone loses. The fans get to grumble and kick cans with no power at all. The owners will lose considerable profits from missed attendance. The players also lose salary and do not get to play the game they love. The outlook is bleak, but there may be a buzzer-beating deal in works. Let’s hope so.