Owners sending middle finger to NHL Players with early Labor Negoatiations;Lockout looming
By: Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem
Haven’t We Seen This Movie Before? 2011 was the Year of the Lockout. Both the NFL and NBA experienced well-noted labor stoppages that frustrated fans and threatened the popularity of their respective sports. But, the NFL and NBA were each (luckily) able to put their differences aside with their respective player unions & ink new deals preserving seasons. The NFL played its full slate of games and the NBA’s was shortened, but notsignificantly. But those labor disputes seem to pale in comparison to the 2004 NHL lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season & Stanley Cup Playoffs/Finals. That seemed to be a debilitating blow to hockey in the United States. It will always be the king of the sporting culture in Canada, but Stateside, it became less of a sport & more of a punchline. ESPN decided to back away from hockey after that, making the NHL having to ink a deal with (at-the time) Comcast owned Versus. Now, that Versus is the NBC Sports Network & NBC is the primary TV partner of the NHL in the states, it seemed to be poised to continue its trend upward. But, ratings troubles over this past year didn’t exactly make 2011-2012 a banner year forthe NHL’s efforts to expand its popularity in the Lower 48. Now, they could be about to do the lockout tango all over again. The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NHL’s Players Association concludes this September—and already the initial offer from the League sounds eerily reminiscent of the game plan the NBA owners had last year. Renaud P.Lavoie of RDS, the French sports network in Canada, reported that they would like to trim the amount of revenue the players receive from 57% all the way down to 46%. Another caveat is that they would like the players to wait a full 10 years before they can become unrestricted free agents. In addition,the owners want 5-entry level contract years instead of 3, limiting of contracts to 5 years, and the termination of salary arbitration. In short, the proposal was the equivalent of a middle finger at Donald Fehr. Of course,there’s no way that this offer is going to get approval from the players. It’s a total procedural measure. It shows what the owners REALLY want, but in no way, shape, or form, should Commissioner Bettman expect the players to agree with this. Likely, Mr. Fehr and the players will come back with acounter-offer.
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