NHL Lockout 2012: Owners and Players Continue to Insult Fans

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2012

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 20: Fans show their feelings regarding the NHL lockout as the Florida Gators take on the Villanova Wildcats in the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on March 20, 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee. Villanova defeated Florida 76-65.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

With the start of their season in jeopardy, you would think that anyone and everyone who is associated with the NHL would be putting their best foot forward, working around-the-clock to reach an agreement that works for everyone.

But it sure looks like we're headed for what will be the third significant work stoppage the sport has dealt with in the past 20 years, especially with no negotiations scheduled between the league and the players union, per Katie Strang of ESPN.

Strang's colleague, Scott Burnside, points out that the two sides can't even agree on which side put an end to negotiations last Friday.

The lack of urgency and the battle of who is right and who is wrong is laughable and pathetic at the same time.

As usual, the major issue on the table is money. The league is asking players to reduce their share of hockey related revenue (HRR) from 57 percent to 46 percent, which is actually 43 percent as owners want to change how that revenue is calculated.

Oh, and they want a five-year limit on contracts, begging the union to save them from themselves as they continue to pony up ridiculous decade-long, multi-million dollar deals that nobody asked for in the first place.

The players, under former MLB Players Union head Donald Fehr, came back with their own counter-proposal, which basically agreed to a reduced share of revenue for three years with a return to 57 percent in the fourth year of the deal.

Predictably, the league turned that down.

Of course, hockey fans around the world are the people who are caught in the middle.

The same people who came back to the sport in droves for the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, which lasted 48 games.

The same people who came back stronger than ever after the lost 2004-05 season.

More importantly, these are the people largely responsible for raising hockey related revenue to $3.3 billion, the highest that the sport has ever seen.

Yet the millionaires and billionaires can't figure out how to slice that pie.

Following the last work stoppage, the league painted "Thank You Fans!" just past the blue lines as a way to placate fans.

The players did it too, with home teams gathering at center ice and raising their sticks to the sky, acknowledging those in attendance.

Nice gestures, but that's all they are—gestures.

Look, we don't care that Bill Daly and Stephen Fehr—both serving as the second-in-command of the league and union, respectively—were going out to dinner Wednesday night, as USA Today's Kevin Allen reported.

We don't care which side is right or which side is wrong, if there even is a right and wrong to be decided.

Today, even in these hard economic times, fans are itching to hand their hard-earned cash over to the powers that be so that they can eat some food, have a beer or two and pack the barn, raining thunderous applause down on those fortunate enough to make their living playing the greatest sport in the world.

Donald Fehr and Gary Bettman need to lock themselves in a room and not emerge until an agreement has been reached.

For another work stoppage will result in the fans giving both sides a gesture of their own—and we won't be signaling No. 1.