More Games Cancelled, Less People Care

The NHL made a mistake this past week.  The offered the players a 50/50 split and planned on playing all 82 games, thinking that the players would buy in to this and the owners wouldn’t lose a cent.  That, however, was a miscalculation.  The Players figure that the 50/50 split wasn’t much of a compromise on the leagues original offer since it’s probably what they wanted in the first place.

To counter-offer the leagues proposal, the NHLPA sent in three proposals which, in ten minutes, were dismissed by Commissioner Garry Bettman.  The reason? The proposals don’t make mathematical sense to the owners because it it doesn’t work out to an effective 50/50 split for the initial years.  Meaning that what you would see is an effective gradual decrease of the percentage over the life of the CBA, what the players wanted all along and what the owners won’t even consider.

Basically both sides are still very much far apart and I don’t see much changing any time soon.  And as such the league cancelled games through November 1st, although more cancellations will be coming later this week.

My prediction: this season is done for.  And if NHLPA leader Fehr is as good as we think he is, part of next season will get cancelled too.  The players are together on this, unlike in 2004 in which much of the union was fragmented.  By the time next season when they start to cancel games, the owners will cave because the amount of revenue lost will start to really hurt the teams and the league.  Garry Bettman will step down as the commissioner and the NHL will once again play hockey.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking…

Talks Resume in Secret as Games are Cancelled

As anticipated, the NHL cancelled games from the start of the season, calling it a “postponement” of the season.  I guess that’s a good sign.  But a better sign is that, as the Star Ledger reported, both sides came together for a secret meeting up in Toronto.

An even better sign that that, both sides are looking to get new proposals.  Previously both sides stated that they were awaiting the other side to submit something new.  If you believe in “I go then you go,” the Players Association was the last group to submit  a new proposal to the league, which they quickly turned down.  But the league argued that it was so far out of the ballpark they had to try again.  A do-over, if you will.

The fact that both sides have now asked for new proposals and both sides have agreed, means a compromise could be in the works, as suggested by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.  This sounds like what the NHLPA has been looking for all along.

It is anticipated that both sides will have discussions this weekend on a new meeting date for sometime next week to review each other’s new proposal.

And now I agree with Chris Christie… Thanks NHL!

While plodding around on the inter-webs, I came across an article where two NHL Senators wrote a little love note to the NHL and NHLPA asking them to please settle their differences because this hurts local business in Newark – which I wholeheartedly agree with.  But I took away from this story two things:

1. The NHL and NHLPA don’t care about local businesses in and around arenas.  The NHL cares about what they feel is in the best interest of the league – however misguided it may be.  The NHLPA, like most unions, cares about itself and doesn’t dare peak outside the box for that would be against union regulations.  In many cases – it most likely is going against it’s members’ wishes to do what it feels is in it’s best interest to keep face and rake in as much money as possible.  And yet of the two sides, I have to hitch my boat to the NHLPA because I really feel the league is just trying to get away with whatever they want and truly justifying why unions still need to exist today.

2. I severely dislike the threat thrown in the letter by the senators stating “Congress has jurisdiction over interstate commerce, which includes professional sports, and will be keeping a ‘close eye’ on negotiations.”  So if everyone remembers what a waste of taxpayer money Congress spent during the baseball drug use trials, just remember they could easily waste money butting in to the issues being hashed out by the NHL and NHLPA.

And lets be honest here – Congress isn’t going to weigh in on this issue because, as I stated in yesterday’s post, not enough people care about hockey to really warrant someone paying attention to the problem.  And even if they did, they wouldn’t pay attention to the correct problem anyway, and that is in my mind the league feels it can strong-arm the players in to any deal they want because, if they don’t agree 100% to their terms, they’ll just lock the players out.  To me, that’s not negotiating in good faith.  I never thought I would be sticking up for the people who in a given year make more than I could ever imagine to make in a lifetime, but here we are and here I am – doing just that.

And now today I find an even more interesting news article in which Gov. Christie hopes to see the lockout end “as a fan” and for the “economic impact.” But he admitted that he couldn’t really add anything to help the situation along, and any politician who tries is just grandstanding.  And I agree.  Not to get in to a political debate here, but I’m not a big fan of the big governor.  I don’t agree with a lot of what he says or does.  But every so often I must admit that he says something that just makes real sense and I can’t deny it.  And this so happens to be one of those times.  Don’t sit around Congress and draft a letter to the NHL and the NHLPA asking them to make things right in their little world.  How about you try to help in the issues of things that really matter to the country?

 

Back to the hockey side of the NHL, we will most likely hear on Wednesday that the NHL has cancelled the start of the season.  Probably just the first few weeks to begin, and then they’ll continue to chip away as both sides sit and stare at each other waiting for the other to cave.  In recent meetings, both sides have met but not made any progress on the hockey related revenue.  Instead, discussions and progress are being made on other “peripheral” issues.  I think that means they’re discussing things like the players’ dental plans.

And then there were None

So last we spoke a la circa May 26th, the Devils were about ready to enter the Stanley Cup Finals with, who I would learn to dislike, the LA Kings and, apparently, Matthew Perry (seriously who names a character on their new sit-com after their favorite sports team?). It was quite a matchup. I maintain for the record that I did wish dearly the Devils would be better, but I knew the Kings had a leg up on them. From the start, it seemed like this was going to be a sweep. Thankfully the Devils made things interesting, but alas still could not put up enough of a fight to fend off the Kings and their quest to a cup.

Truthfully I have no ill feelings about anything that occurred. I was thankful and very pleased how the Devils came back to force a game 5 and 6. But in my mind the strong team won the cup. I’m man enough to admit that, and everyone should be as well.

Now on to more depressing news. The season is a little over a week and a half away, and the top story on the official Devils web site is about an Albany Devils scrimmage.

Like it or not, we’re not seeing an on-time start to this season. And, in the event it wasn’t evident enough on njdevils.info, I blame the owners, the league, and most importantly, the commmish.  Even just looking at pictures of him, this short round guy standing behind this oversized NHL podium, I can’t help but think to myself, “What a weasel.”

Wakeup call to all owners: you’ve missed the point!  You have a gun in your hand, and you didn’t aim it at players or fans or advertisers. No, you aimed it right at your foot, and fired at least three times. Congrats. The sport started gaining cred amongst the pro-sports franchises. The NHL was finally starting to catch up to the WNBA and about to overtake them as the 17th most watched sport.  Games were getting exciting.  The shootout was no longer being mocked by everyone – most people still were, but not everyone. The Winter Classic has been a huge hit in every city it’s been played, and a national TV deal with a major network was, amazingly, obtained (started out as Outdoor Life Network, then OLN, then Versus, then Vs., and finally NBC Sports – what a ride!).  Sure some southern states are finally succumbing to the fact that hockey will never work there – they’re too busy watching Honey Boo Boo to really care about real entertainment (seriously TLC, aka The Learning Channel, I’m disappointed in you).

Overall things are starting to take shape the NHL is starting to become credible in the public’s eye once more.

And then you pull this out of the bag.

 

If it wasn’t for the fact that I love hockey so much, that I’ve invested so much feeling, time, energy and – as you know so well – money, I’d seriously pick up another sport like Baseball or NASCAR.  But unfortunately for me, the Mets suck and I lost interest when racing became “safe.”  Oh and Pocono Raceway – a tri-oval? Really? At least add some cool banking to the turns or – ooooh better yet – throw in a chicane on the straightaway!

 

Huh? Oh yeah, Lockout!  I guess my point is, folks, if you think the world is going to miss having hockey, think again.  Most people I talk to don’t even realize there’s trouble brewing, let alone an immanent cancellation of opening night.  I hate to say this, but I’m pretty sure no one would realize hockey is missing until about February or March when people start talking about playoffs.  Get a deal done. Players may cave, but I have my doubts.  Players want 57, Owners want 47, lets make it 52 and move on with our lives folks. Lets play hockey. Having your fourth lockout since 1992 is not helping the sport at all people, and you better not be blind and think it’ll bounce back.  It takes time, years, and lost revenue before that’ll happen.  It hurts everyone, including you.