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NHL Lockout 2012: Inevitably Long Stalemate Will Have Permanent Consequences

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League speaks to the media at Crowne Plaza Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Richard LangfordCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2012

The sides are too far apart on the central issue of cash for the NHL lockout to be anything but long and damaging.

And by long, I mean kiss-the-season-goodbye long. On Saturday, we entered Day 28 of the stoppage and there is no real negotiating going on. 

USA Today's Mike Brehm has a wonderful timeline of developments during the lockout.  

He notes that the last time the two sides met was Thursday, Oct. 11. They discussed popular topics like drug testing and free agency. 

What was not discussed was the most popular topic ever: money. 

Not surprisingly, it is the dispersal of the $3.3 billion in revenues that the league generates that is the main sticking point. That is the point that will push this labor dispute beyond any date when this season can be salvaged, and the two sides aren't even comfortable enough with each other to discuss the topic.  

TSN's Bob McKenzie points out that the league is seeking to move from the 43-57 revenue split to one around 50-50, and they don't want to do this over time, they want to rush into this thing. 

McKenzie notes that the owners are looking for an instant pay cut to their players of at least 12 percent. 

I don't care how much money you make, that is a big pay cut! I know I wouldn't be very eager to willfully agree to do the same job for 12 percent less, and these players aren't, either. 

This is not going to be resolved while there is still time for a season to be played, and here is where the folly of the whole situation becomes unavoidably apparent. A lost season is going to limit the money anyone makes from hockey for a long, long time. 

It is one thing to have a delayed start to a season—by the time the postseason rolls around, the bitter feelings of a stoppage have all but disappeared—but it is another thing to miss a whole season. That gives fans too much time to find other interests and to forget about hockey.

The NHL needs to do everything they can to prevent that from happening. There will be time to sort out the revenue issues gradually. Otherwise, there is going to be very little revenue to disperse. 

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