Anyone that thinks the NHLPA will walk away from the NHL lockout with any type of win is delusional. The fact is that the NHLPA is in a no-win situation and no matter what the end result, they will walk away as losers in their fight with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL owners.
Bettman and the owners have dug in their heels on the percentage of hockey-related revenue they are willing to share with the NHLPA. In response, union head Donald Fehr and the players have crossed their arms and set scowls upon their faces, vowing to not accept the paltry offer the NHL has extended their way.
Both sides seem willing to forgo the entire 2012-13 season to make their point, and while that solidarity is nice on the part of the NHLPA, it’s basically the players taking $1.873 billion in player salaries and flushing it down the toilet.
Mull that over, the players made a total of $1.873 billion last year, and if there is no season they will never get that money back, which means no $11 million for Ilya Kovalchuk and no $525,000 for the players making the NHL minimum salary. $1.873 billion gone, never to be seen again.
Without some significant give on HRR, the season will most likely be lost. While the NHLPA may consider their strong united front and refusal to give in to the demands of Bettman and the owners a victory, it will be hard to believe those claims when the players forgo almost two billion dollars.
I understand the thinking, but the reality is no NHL owner got rich from owning an NHL team, they were rich before they owned those teams and will remain rich with or without an NHL season. In fact, if we are to believe the claims of some teams, the owners may actually save money by scrapping the 2012-13 season.
So while the owners will still be swimming in cash with or without an NHL season, can the same be said of the individuals that were not rich before they became NHL players?
If the players do cave in and agree to the NHL’s HRR number and sign off on a new collective bargaining agreement, they can be sure that when that deal expires, the owners will be looking to take more back from them. Agreeing to the huge cut in HRR will show weakness, and you can bet that the owners will look to exploit that perceived weakness the next time the two groups sit across from each other at the bargaining table.
There you have it in a nutshell, the NHLPA can stand strong and give up nearly two billion dollars or they can sign off on a new CBA and expect to get fleeced again a few years down the road.
They can’t win, they can only lose less and that’s an awful situation for the players to be in.