For the hardcore hockey fans that haven’t been able to grasp the idea of losing yet another NHL season—just eight years after a lockout cost the league every game in 2004-2005—the league’s owners and the players’ association have once again come to a stalemate.
The league has officially canceled all games through the end of November. Ouch.
As the likelihood that the league could once again cancel an entire season of hockey continues to grow by the day, the two sides continue to posture themselves for a long fight with no ending in sight.
While there is still a glimmer of hope from the fans that the two sides will realize the magnitude of the detriment that they’re doing to the sport, there will be no progress made until the financial issues are settled.
And yes, this is all about the money.
What They’re Saying
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement obtained by NHL.com:
The National Hockey League deeply regrets having to take this action. By presenting a proposal to the NHLPA that contemplated a fair division of revenues and was responsive to player concerns regarding the value of their contracts, we had hoped to be able to forge a long-term collective bargaining agreement that would have preserved an 82-game regular season for our fans. Unfortunately, that did not occur…We acknowledge and accept that there is joint responsibility in collective bargaining and, though we are profoundly disappointed that a new agreement has not been attained to this point, we remain committed to achieving an agreement that is fair for the players and the clubs — one that will be good for the game and our fans.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement obtained by NHL.com:
The league officially informed us today that they have withdrawn their latest proposal and have cancelled another slate of regular-season games. This is deeply disappointing for all hockey fans and everyone who makes their living from hockey, including the players. But it comes as no surprise. The only thing I’ll say about the conversation is, and we repeatedly get asked, ‘What is there in the NHL offer that moved in our direction?’ My problem is all I can do is shrug my shoulders, because I don’t know what it is.
What They’re Actually Saying
While the NHL owners are only partly to blame for this lockout and continued failure at reaching a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they continue to lose the public relations war with the players through the media.
No matter how much Daly apologizes for the league, the owners look like they don’t care and the fans aren’t listening to Daly’s words.
Hardcore fans just want their hockey back.
The biggest problem that has faced the owners and the league representatives is the lack of details presented to the fans through these statements and the insult that implies.
While it is true that the majority of fans wouldn’t be able to handle the truth behind the issues the NHL is facing, the fact that all the league has done thus far is feed the fanbase half-hearted apologies and cancellation notices alienates the people they should be serving.
As much as the players association has been winning the PR battle with the owners, they are still losing the financial war and have just as much to do with the fact that there are no games right now as anyone.
The NHLPA members aren’t the victims; the fans that support this game are the victims.
While Fehr has shown great fight leading the players against the owners in the tough negotiating deal, it has become blatantly clear that both sides are unwilling to make necessary compromises to get a deal done.
That includes the players that have been so adamant about getting back to playing hockey.
Instead of the NHLPA jostling with the owners via the media to gain the trust and respect of the fan’s opinion, they should be working together to find where the compromises they are willing to make will come from.
It is obvious that this lockout situation will only be resolved when both sides get serious about making a deal happen, but it appears that neither side is ready for that yet.
They’re too busy posturing.
Check back for more on the National Hockey League as it comes, and don’t miss Bleacher Report’s NHL page to get your fill of all things hockey.