We are nearing D-Day of the NHL's CBA negotiations. Apparently the talks on Friday went off the rails very quickly — so quickly that the NHL won't even meet up with the NHLPA
to discuss non-economic issues dealing with the CBA.
“We actually don’t think that meeting on the other issues while the main economic issues remain uncertain would be particularly constructive or productive in terms of resolving those issues,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email to The Post. “A lot has already been done and most of those issues are teed up for resolution if the main issues can be addressed.”
It's just total garbage. The owners have taken their ball and gone home. After the jump, we're gonna lay out some shit regarding the lockout.
THE OWNERS CAN WAIT
First off, the NHL owners are more than happy to sit back and wait for the NHLPA to come to them. Because they have the money, and the players want that money. Some of those players NEED that money. The Crosbys and Ovechkins mean nothing when it comes to this. This is why Craig Adams is an NHLPA representative. He is Harvard educated and his $725,000 salary is well below the league average of $2.4 million. A lockout hurts players like Craig Adams way more than it hurts a player like Crosby, who already has more money than Thailand. This is why the NHLPA will eventually bend.
IT'S PLAYERS VS. OWNERS…AND OWNERS VS. OWNERS
The NHLPA is clearly winning the coveted "PR battle," though. It's not even a contest. Any fan who has sat down and read about the lockout can see that a main division in these CBA negotiations is pitting owners against owners. It's the big-money owners against the small-market owners. This is why the NHLPA's proposals have centered around filtering money to the small-market teams in need of financial help. The big-market teams and small-market teams don't have the same exact interests at heart.
Bettman said this:
"We believe we're paying out more than we should be."
In other news, the ink is still wet on the massssssssive ddgsfahfgjgs contracts that Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed over the summer. It's all bullshit. Then again, maybe it was a genius move by the Minnesota Wild. The owners have probably known for a while now that there would be a lockout this season barring the NHLPA agreeing to a massive paycut. But, again, the owners also know that the NHLPA will eventually give in. Either way, Suter and Parise's contracts won't be for the amount of money they signed them for.
NHL EXPANSION HAS PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE
The league is too big. There's no question about it. There's no reason for there to be two professional ice-hockey teams in Florida. Why the piss is there an ice-hockey team in Arizona again? There's a hockey team in Columbus. There's a hockey team in Nashville, Tennessee. There's a team in Anaheim 24 feet from Los Angeles. And if it wasn't for Sidney Crosby, you could easily add Kansas City to this list of cities.
We're not trying to jump on fans of these teams. That's not the point here. The point is that some of these cities shouldn't have been given teams in the first place. The NHL turned into a shit league in the mid-'90s as the number of teams grew. More teams meant more players were needed. More players meant some players that otherwise wouldn't have been NHL-caliber were given jobs. This led to the clutch-and-grab era, as it was the only way for teams in the smaller markets to compete with the heavy hitters.
This dilution of talent is why small-market teams keep finding themselves in need of cash. Say there were 24 teams in the NHL, and the Columbus Blue Jackets were one of those teams. With less teams in the league, Columbus would see a bigger portion of the revenue sharing, which in turn would help them draw better talent, which in turn would draw fans and money to the arena, and that cycle would sustain itself on an infinite loop. Tampa Bay is an unreal hockey town when the team is winning. We named Nashville in a previous paragraph. They have been playoff contenders year in and year out for a while now, and the fans have come. In the current state of the league, could Columbus even dream of giving a massive contract to a homegrown talent like Shea Weber? No way.
And why the hell was Atlanta given a second franchise? Shit. That franchise's relocation to Winnipeg was a red flag that the core economic structure of the NHL isn't right. Look at MLB and the NFL, which have stable, albeit different, economic structures. Aside from relocating the white-elephant Montreal Expos to Washington in 2005, the MLB hasn't had a team leave a city since 1972. When you look at relocations in the NFL, it's usually centered around a certain city not coming up with funds to secure a new stadium in time for an owner. See Houston-Tennessee and Cleveland-Baltimore. The NFL hasn't had a relocation in 15 years. Hell, it only took a handful of years for both Houston and Cleveland to gain back NFL franchises for their cities.
Then look at the NHL relocations:
Boom. Mid-'90s. If the NHL had any stability, Atlanta would still have the franchise. But therein lies the entire problem. Atlanta should have never had a franchise to begin with. There was a lull in relocations between 1997 and 2011, but Pens fans aren't alone in the understanding that many NHL franchises were in dire straits during those years. Again, we're not shitting on any of these expansion cities. But when you threw a party in high school that everyone found about, you had to start turning people away or kicking latecomers out so that there'd be enough beer for people who were invited/been there for a while.
Donald Fehr came to the negotiating table with the small-market owners in mind, hoping to cause some sort of division amongst the owners. Looks like that plan just won't work or it has backfired amazingly. The date to circle now is September 13. The NHL Board of Governors will be meeting to vote on whether or not to lock out the players. And keep an eye and ear out for the term "hockey-related revenues." That's what the entire CBA negotiating process is revolving around.