I'm sorry, NHL fans, but I think you had better become basketball or soccer fans this year. It's time to stop holding out hope that we might see an NHL season this year.
There was no new CBA before Thanksgiving, with the players accepting the owners' 50/50 split but the sticking point remaining the provision the players receive $393 million in guaranteed money over four years, above the owners' proposal of $211 million.
That was enough to keep the two sides apart, as leadership echoed (via Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger):
"We're still far apart,” Bettman told reporters in New York, “but hopefully there is some momentum so we can bring this to a conclusion. There was some movement in our direction and it was appreciated."
Bettman said the NHL is losing $18-20 million per day. He estimated the players are losing between $8-10 million each day.
After presenting the owners with the players’ proposal, NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said: "We have moved far more than halfway. It’s about as good as we can do."
I'm sorry, but I put this one on the owners. They were the ones who wanted the change, they were the ones who demanded HUGE concessions from the players, they were the ones who rejected this latest proposal which showed serious compromises from the union and they were the ones who had no problem canceling a season in the past.
Gary Bettman and the owners are essentially asking the players to pay for the fact that the top brass in the league has no idea how to run this organization without leaking money. On one hand hand, the owners offer players 15-year, front-loaded deals—on the other hand, they tell the players they don't deserve the money they've already agreed to pay them.
How does that make any sense?
At some point, the players are simply going to put a halt to the concessions and demand the owners meet them halfway or break off talks altogether. At that point, what do you think the owners will do, negotiate in good faith?
No, more than likely they'll simply cancel the season.
And I think the players union is probably about done making concessions. Thomas Boswell of The Washington Post covered Fehr while he was head of the MLB player's union, and he thinks this latest proposal is an example of a tried and true tactic:
Long negotiations have key junctures—like Wednesday. One Fehr method is to identify moments of discovery when his union can determine the other side’s true intentions. The union pushes an aggressive proposal, one that usually addresses the concerns of moderate members in the union. That way, it either reaches an agreement soon or the membership toughens once it “discovers” that the actual strategy of the other side is a long fight.
My guess? After the NHL wholeheartedly rejected the players' latest proposal, the union will solidify even further and won't back down. Rather than some players trying to convince the group to keep negotiating and making concessions, the players will draw a line in the sand together and refuse negotiate again until the owners walk toward it.
And when that happens, the season is lost. Unless the owners have just been posturing this whole time and have no problem canceling the season, now would be the time for them to meet the players halfway.
But they won't. And you, NHL fans, will have to settle for the NBA and English Premier League.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets predict crazy things like Baylor upsets. Seriously.
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