While the sports news cycle has been dominated by the insufferable incompetence of the NFL and their continued insistence that the replacement officials are perfectly adequate, another significang labor situation has gone largely unnoticed. The NHL has been locked out for 11 days with no substantive talks taking place for more than a week. The preseason has already been completely cancelled and the threat of more cancellations looms large. But the two sides are going to come back to table and talk to each other on Friday, so that’s progress, right? Ehhhh….
While the two sides will be in the same room on Friday, they are still miles apart on the core economic issues that created this labor situation. The owners want immediate cutbacks in the players share of hockey-generated revenue. The players, understandably, are hesitant to agree to any salary givebacks.
The owners offered up these often-ridiculously rich contracts, even right up to the lockout, and now appear to want to back out on their end of the deal while keeping the talent they signed with promises of giant money bags. They’ve sent their spokesman, Gary Bettman, to the front lines of negotiations to get them their “takesies backsies.”
But just as you can’t triple-stamp a double-stamp, the players are holding firm. Unconfirmed reports are that the NHLPA is watching commericals for J.G. Wentworth before heading into negotiations in order to stay strong. It’s their money, and they need it now, after all.
So what does this mean for the fans, who represent the voiceless side of this labor issue that is guaranteed to lose? Tough cookies, pretty much.
Recent history shouldn’t leave fans too hopeful that Bettman and company will be doing their darndest to save the season. Just eight years ago, these very same owners, represented by the very same Bettman, sacrificed an entire season of hockey in order to get their way.
With hockey trending up in popularity and revenue streams growing, the NHL owners are no longer happy with the rules of the game they already set in their own favor. And they’re willing to take their ball (or puck in this case) and go home to stay until they get their way.
So while NFL fans cry out for the blood of the false officials, remember one thing: At least they’re playing.