In 30 days, the NHL Owners will lockout the players, thereby delaying the start of the 2012-13 NHL season. I would think that after the lockout which led to the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season, and the fallout that came of it, the last thing the owners would want would be another labour dispute. The NHL lost their partnership with ESPN, a network seen in nearly 100% of households and bars across the country. Because of this, they had to partner up with the Outdoor Life Network (which became Versus, then VS., and now The NBC Sports Network). As many hockey fans soon came to find out, this network is nowhere near as readily available as is ESPN and it’s parent channel ABC.
Eight years ago the NHLPA had no strong voice negotiating for them. They were backed into a corner and were eventually forced to accept every single demand, many of them terribly unfair, that the NHL Owners wanted. For lo these past seven seasons, the league has operated under the collective bargaining agreement that the Owners set up. The Owners have gotten exactly what they wanted, but not it is still not enough. The players are better off now than they were before the 04-05 lockout, and therein lies the Owners problems. Whereas the Owners are making out great from the current CBA, the players are making out better than the Owners expected them to. Now the owners want to cut back the players earnings and profit sharings again, but this time the NHLPA has a strong leader with a strong voice.
A month ago, the Owners presented a new CBA to the NHLPA, and it was a horrible insulting one at that. Tuesday, the NHLPA offered up it’s counter-proposal to the Owners. Yesterday the Owners dismissed that offer. League President Gary Bettman yesterday said that the two sides are far apart from an agreement, and NHLPA head Donald Fehr agrees with that assessment.
My fear is that the last lockout hurt the NHL so badly, that neither side thought the other would allow another lockout this time around. Both sides believed that the other would back down first. But with 30 days left before a new lockout begins, it looks like there will be no NHL hockey come October this season.
Are you a hockey fan? What’s your team? (BUFFALO SABRES REPRESENT!!!)