We are in the third week of the NHL lockout, and while there's no end in sight, the fact that the NHL and the NHLPA are sitting down and talking is a positive.
While some will say that the two sides meeting, but not talking about the elephant in the room—the split of hockey-related revenue—is futile and a waste of time, I would offer the opposite. Talking about everything but HRR is in everyone’s best interest at this point in time.
Yes, the split of HRR is the sexy topic, it’s the subject that gets all the press and it’s the topic that is going to decide whether or not we have any hockey in 2012-13, but it’s not the only issue that needs to be addressed.
Whenever a CBA comes up for discussion, everything is open for negotiation and it’s often clearing up the little things that lead to the one big hurdle being cleared.
The topics being discussed on Wednesday were, according to The Hockey News, “health and safety, medical care, drug testing, rent and mortgage reimbursements (and) grievances." These are the small topics that fans don’t really care about, but a little give-and-take in these areas may lead to a little give-and-take in the HRR department.
The NHLPA will most certainly have to come down in its demands over what percentage of the HRR it is requesting in the next collective bargaining agreement, just as the NHL will have to raise its offer.
Clearing up all the small items and offering some give-and-take there is the only way for the two sides to move forward at this point.
I’m not saying that the above will happen, but it’s a positive step getting these small issues resolved. It gives both sides momentum, it provides a feeling of accomplishment and it should lead to further discussion about how the HRR will be split.
To borrow an overused phrase, you have to walk before you can run, and the fact that the NHL and NHLPA are walking together is a good sign. Will they end that walk holding hands and watching the sunset? That’s doubtful, but maybe they will end the walk with a signed CBA some time in the not-too-distant future.