Boston Bruins owners Jeremy Jacobs and Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider are the two longest tenured owners in the NHL, but is their hard-line approach good for the game?
Make no mistake, these are the two most powerful owners in the sport, and if there's two people that league commissioner Gary Bettman wants to have on his side, and keep happy, it's Jacobs and Snider.
Jacobs has owned the Bruins since 1975, while Snider, the longest tenured owner in the league, has owned the Flyers since their inaugural season in 1967.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by ESPN.com's Scott Burnside earlier this month that helps explain Jacobs' status in the current labor dispute.
If there is one owner who appears to have a disproportionate amount of sway within the ownership group—and hence the bargaining process—it's Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who is the head of the NHL's board of governors. He is seen as a hard-liner who would like to see the players' share of the revenue pie reduced significantly from the 50-50 that many believe is a target for much of the ownership side.
'I can't tell you how powerful he is,' one source from the players' side told ESPN.com.
This tweet from TSN's Darren Dreger on the Thursday before the lockout didn't help Jacobs' popularity among the fans.
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs called for an official, on the record vote to support lockout. Vote was unanimous. Solidarity recorded.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 13, 2012
Although Snider might not be as powerful as Jacobs, he is certainly an owner with enough influence to have a profound impact on important changes to the league.
Both of these men want to make money, and will do whatever necessary (lockouts included) to do so, even if as a result the NHL suffers considerable damage.
In this sense, they are not good for the game. The NHL needs its most powerful owners to be willing to negotiate with the players' union, and make a serious effort to avoid inflicting harm onto the sport by going through lockouts.
In the NFL, for example, some of the most influential owners, such as Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, are willing to negotiate to avoid situations like a lockout from hurting the sport.
Jacobs and Snider have not been able to prevent the NHL from entering three lockouts during their tenures as owners, even though they both probably have the power to stop these work stoppages from becoming a reality.
Are hard-line owners like Snider and Jacobs good for the NHL?
Jacobs did not want the NHL to open its doors in 2004 unless the league implemented a salary cap system to aid the owners against rising player salaries, and unfortunately for the sport, he got his wish at the cost of a full season being erased. As Burnside notes in the passage above, he is equally involved in labor negotiations this time around.
While Jacobs and Snider have done a lot of good for their teams (both the Bruins and Flyers have won Stanley Cups during their ownership), and have positively affected their communities, their approach in CBA negotiations has not helped the NHL at all.
The best owners balance making money with doing what's right for the sport. It's fine to take a stand and do what's best for your business, which is what these teams are, but repeatedly putting the league at risk with situations such as lockouts isn't helping hockey one bit.
Hard-line owners like Jacobs and Snider aren't good for the NHL, but unfortunately for hockey fans, the 2012-13 season probably isn't going to happen unless these two men end up getting most of what they want in the labor negotiations with the players.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.