Despite the approaching hockey-less new year, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has suggested a two week break to regroup internally before resuming negotiations.
Yesterday marked the third paycheck the players have missed out on as a result of the lockout. The meetings appeared to be progressing last week, but ended in frustration when both sides claimed the other wasn’t cooperating. This has remained the tone of the week thus far as the new year approaches with no hockey.
Though many speculate this to be another scare tactic by the league, it was confirmed that Bettman had contacted NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and suggested they both take a two week break.
Both sides seem to be echoing the other’s message in terms of what has been happening on the bargaining tables.
“We have made repeated moves in the Players’ direction with absolutely no reciprocation,” said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. “Regardless of what we propose or how we suggest to compromise the answer is “no,” At some point you have to say ‘enough is enough.’”
You can guess what Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan said in regards to his view on the negotiation process.
“It’s hard to reach a deal when you don’t have anyone to negotiate with,” said Ryan.
This is the root problem in the standoff. Both sides are flexing their muscles and openly blaming the other for not cooperating. They can negotiate different aspects of varying issues, but until they put their animosity aside and become actually willing to compromise their respective interests, a deal will not be reached.
Ducks forward and future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne said he’s sad for the hockey world, and especially sad for the young players who may not ever play in the NHL because of the lockout.
“I’m 42 years old, I don’t need to play another game,” said Selanne. “It’s just sad for the young players.”
After the last lockout, more than 200 NHL hopefuls had their dreams dashed as the full-season lockout closed the narrow window of opportunity.
One thing players have to understand is they won`t like the deal they will eventually agree to. They are going to take a big hit either way. The revenue sharing is looking like a decrease from 57 percent to 50 and the owners are especially not compliant with honouring the players’ current contracts. This means the players will have to compromise, at some point, in this area.
The goal of the players this time around is to absorb as little of a blow as possible. This is why from day one of the lockout, I never expected a deal until at least December. The players entered negotiations underestimating the owners’ demands. The owners entered the negotiations determined to show the players why they should have begun negotiating 12 months ago, when Bettman suggested.
Essentially, the most effective way to reduce the blow is to wait until the last minute in hopes that the small market clubs push for a deal.
However, the only visible compromise the league has made from their unrealistic initial demand was in the area of revenue sharing. From the first offer to now, they have increased the players Hockey Related Revenue percentage from 43 to 50.
A key note to remember in the 50/50 compromise is the players will only agree to it if the owners agree to honour the players’ current contract terms. Each NHLPA representative has been very adamant in receiving the money they were promised by their respective franchises.
This is the trickiest part of these negotiations. Both sides are presenting certain terms on the ultimatum that the other side accepts another request in a different area of the offer. Connecting the dots becomes extremely difficult when connecting lines are continuously cut by one side or the other.
In regards to a deadline by which to reach a new deal, we must look back to the 1994-95 lockout. A deal was agreed to on January 11 and the 48-game season was able to begin on Jan. 20, 1995.
Of course, most people like to draw the comparison to the NBA lockout last season when it ended Dec. 8, 2011 and they were able to play 66 games.
The sad fact is the 2012-13 NHL season is in danger of having its December games cancelled, and all both sides are talking about is taking a break.