NHL lockout looming…

15 09 2012

Well, it looks 99% certain that there won’t be NHL hockey when the actual season gets under way next month.

As of tonight (Saturday night), the players will be locked out by their teams, because they won’t have reached a new collective bargaining agreement.

Here’s what gets to me: league revenues are up big time, meaning that the NHL appears to be flourishing, and yet the league is trying to claw back money that, until the current CBA expires tonight, went to the players.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been saying, time and again, that player salaries have been going up too quickly, and is trying to reduce the salaries paid to the players. But the owners are at fault too, as they’ve signed a number of players to big contracts, like the deal by the NHL-owned Phoenix Coyotes, signing 36-year-old captain Shane Doan to a $21-million, 4-year contract.

So Mr. Bettman is saying one thing about player salaries, and doing the opposite, as he had to approve Doan’s deal, because his league owns the Coyotes.

The players are not blameless in this. It is not a matter of the owners simply saying “We will pay you X million dollars for you to be with our team.” It took two months, I understand, for Doan and the Coyotes to reach an agreement, so the amount must have been rolling around in Doan’s mind for some time.

So let’s see: the players, who are already earning more than I think they should (in my opinion, no player, not even Sidney Crosby, is worth millions of dollars a year), have been going after these huge contracts, and the owners are willingly giving them these deals. And yet, Mr. Bettman is saying that salaries are too high?

Something is not right here.

And with the lockout beginning tonight, the rest of us (fans, arena staff, anyone else who would earn money from the games) are left out in the cold.

I’d said it, perhaps jokingly, before. Perhaps I’m more serious about it now. The negotiators on both sides (including Bettman and NHL Players Association head negotiator, Donald Fehr) should be locked in a hotel room somewhere, not to come out until a deal is done. Yes, give them access to bathrooms and room service, but nothing beyond that.

Sooner or later, both the owners and players have to come to their senses that the season is about more than just them, and get this deal done! Enough of this crap we’ve seen recently!

UPDATE (9/16): As of midnight this morning, the 99% chance I mentioned became 100%, barring a deal before the season starts (which is unlikely). The collective bargaining agreement between the NHL owners and players has expired, and the lockout is officially on. 😦