Reasons There Won't Be an NHL Season This Year
As the NHL lockout continues, the chances of a new CBA being reached are shrinking with each passing day. Fans thought they were going to be able to breathe a sigh of relief when a 50-50 revenue split was offered last week; however, smaller issues caused the players to reject what seemed like a season-saving offer.
With the fan-favorite Winter Classic next on the chopping block, things are not looking good for those hoping for an NHL season. The Winter Classic has been the big ticket revenue item for the NHL in the most recent seasons. Fans all around the league had hoped that a deal would be reached for the league to save the fledgling New Year's tradition. Chances of that are looking very slim right now.
Players and owners just do not seem to be seeing eye to eye on smaller issues such as contracts. Unless a miracle happens in the next few weeks, do not expect to see your favorite NHL players lacing up their skates in North America this season.
For hockey fans, the best chance to see their favorite players play this year will be watching European league games or replays from last season. Here are five reasons that the NHL season will not be happening this year.
No One Can See Eye to Eye
When the NHLPA rejected the league's latest proposal that put revenue sharing at 50-50, it became evident there was more to the discussions than people knew about. Much of the talk surrounding the lockout had centered around the issue of revenue sharing.
After the players said no to the league's 50-50 revenue sharing offer, both sides restarted the game of finger-pointing that has been going on ever since the lockout started. The league is claiming that the players are unwilling to negotiate and work with them to get a deal done; the players claim that the league is not willing to meet with them to discuss a deal.
So the debate over who is at fault in the current dilemma continues to rage on, but right now there is one thing certain about the lockout. Unless the two sides have a sudden epiphany within the next few days, there will be no Winter Classic, and most likely no hockey.
Plain and simple, the two sides cannot seem to find a middle ground.
The Owners Want to Cap Contracts
During a summer of free agency that saw Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber sign career-long contracts for astronomical amounts, teams seemed to be taking advantage of the lack of a cap on contract length. Now the owners want to cap all contracts.
The problem for the players is that the owners want ALL contracts currently longer than five years to be cut back to five years. That would mean goodbye to the long-term contracts signed by Parise, Suter and Weber as well as extensions signed by several other stars during the offseason.
Most players look at the ability to sign a long-term contract as a chance to have job stability and know where they are going to be for the remainder of their career. As hard as it may be for some people to believe, some of the players want that security so they can settle down and start a family.
While there is always the uncertainty of a trade, most players like knowing where they will be playing and living. For the players, the problem with the league trying to cap all contracts is it makes the players feel betrayed. Having no cap on contract length, as is the current rule, is something that the players wish would stay in place.
Gary Bettman Is Not Losing Any Money
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is going to make his normal salary this season, games or no games. So why should he be worried about whether or not the negotiations get resolved?
With the NHL owners clearly behind Bettman, his job is safe despite calls from the media and players for Bettman to step down. While some may wonder how a man who has been in control for three lockouts during his tenure has the job security Bettman does, the answer lies in his favor with the owners.
If the rest of the season is cancelled, it means less work for Bettman. Less work and less criticism for one of the sporting world's most criticized men. Bettman's pockets are not getting any lighter as games are cancelled, so do not expect him to have any sense of urgency to complete a new CBA anytime soon.
The Winter Classic Will Be Cancelled
On Monday afternoon, the NHL issued an ultimatum to the players that stated if a deal was not reach by Thursday, November 1, the Winter Classic would be cancelled.
The cancellation of the Winter Classic was a final shot to the heart of hockey fans everywhere as many hoped this fledgling New Year's tradition would be a bargaining chip to get a deal done. However, the finger-pointing game continues still.
NHLPA Head Donald Fehr pointed his finger right at the league, putting all the blame on them for the continued lockout Monday, saying "The league has unfortunately continued to decline to meet. Their position makes it difficult to move the process forward, as it is obviously hard to make progress without talking."
The league has been pointing fingers at the players all along, saying that the players were the ones not willing to meet, not the league.
Either way, with the Winter Classic on the schedule to be cancelled Thursday, the league's biggest revenue event besides the Stanley Cup Finals is now gone.
No one wanted to see the Classic cancelled, but it seems inevitable now. Maybe next year, Detroit.
Fehr Is Not Afraid to Push Back
Fehr, who served as the head of the MLBPA until 2009, has been through one lockout with the MLB and looks poised to go through another.
A fierce negotiator and someone who is not afraid to use a strong poker face, hockey fans everywhere should dread every negotiation that Fehr is the head of. The only benefit of Fehr being involved in the NHLPA is that the players will eventually get most of what they want.
As the leader of the MLBPA, Fehr gained a reputation as someone that gets what he wants, and refuses to take no for an answer. If Donald Fehr feels that an issue is crucial to a new deal, it will be included.
The unwavering demeanor of Fehr in addition to his ruthless negotiating will make getting a deal done that much harder. If someone else was at the helm of the NHLPA, there is a chance the players might have already accepted one of the League's proposals.
With Fehr, there is not much of a chance that the players will accept anything that fails to meet their wants.