NHL Lockout: The No. 1 Reason for Stalled CBA Talks

Riley Kufta@@RileyKuftaContributor IIIOctober 13, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA have not been progressing as many would like. 

Lately, a common thing to see when looking for updates is "no core economic issues were discussed," "no progress was made in negotiations today" and "no scheduled meetings at this time."

With each day that passes, more pessimists emerge, and the odds of losing the entire season increases. 

With so much money on the line, you'd think that both sides would be showing a little more urgency, but that isn't the case, as neither side has even shown an intent to progress.

The reason for the stalled talks is not the divide of hockey related revenue. It is not profit sharing, nor contract length nor the specifics surrounding UFA status.

The No. 1 reason we aren't watching NHL right now is precedent. Precedent set from the 2004-05 lockout, and precedent that will be set from this lockout. 

The NHL looks back at the 2004-05 lockout and what was accomplished. They locked the players out for the entire season.

In the end, they got a 24 percent rollback in player salaries as well as a salary cap (something the PA said would never happen). To top it all off, despite being deprived of the sport they love, the fans came crawling back and helped the NHL experience enormous growth since. 

In short, locking out the players eight years ago resulted in a win for the owners, so it comes as no surprise that it seemed to be the preferred strategy this time around (despite Gary Bettman insisting otherwise). 


If the players caved last time, they'll cave this time...right?

Wrong. In fact, the players and Donald Fehr have some precedent to worry about as well. 

First off, let's look at Donald Fehr. Other than the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the only professional sport to miss a championship due to a lockout or strike was the MLB in 1994-95. The leader and spokesman for the MLBPA at that time was Donald Fehr. 

The winning side in this case was Donald Fehr and the players when all was said and done. 

So here we have two individuals, Bettman and Fehr, leading their respective sides under the precedent that a lockout will bring the other side to cave. That's a scary thought, and the reason that many now believe this lockout will be a long work stoppage. 

Now, onto the players. As mentioned, eight years ago they accepted a 24 percent salary cut. The owners are now looking for another 24 percent rollback. So the players, after conceding last time around and watching the industry flourish enormously since, are now being asked to concede again.

If they do, what happens when that CBA expires? What happens when player concession becomes a precedent and even an expectation?

Sure, 18 teams lost money last season and something needs to change. But imagine that number was five, or even zero. The owners aren't the types of people to put the fork down when they're full. After all, these are people who can afford to own a hockey team in the first place. That kind of money doesn't fall into the hands of the selfless nice guy—it's earned by the ruthless businessman. 

If there was no rollback or lockout in 2004-05, I would be getting ready for the Canucks to take on the Oilers rather than writing this article. But there was, and there's nothing we can do about that. 

But it's not too late to eliminate this lockout becoming a precedent. 

In doing this, we need to ensure that no future lockouts occur. Whether through CBA conditions, labor law or fan influence, it must be done. 

Check back in on Bleacher Report or follow me on Twitter my next piece on how to avoid future NHL lockouts.