Oh, how the spin machine works, or should I say doesn’t work?
If you listen to the NHL, it would like you to believe that its side of the table is the one making all the concessions during the process of negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the NHLPA. Roll that over in your mind for a little bit—the fact that the NHL thinks it is making concessions.
Some of the “concessions” the NHL has made in its offerings to the NHLPA:
- Dropping the share of hockey-related revenue the players receive from 57 percent to 50 percent.
- Demanding that contract lengths be limited to no more than five years.
- No more front-loading contracts for players that may not intend to play out the whole deal.
- Cutting rookie deals to two years.
- Extending the time it takes for a player to reach free agency or be permitted to file for arbitration.
Only in the world of spin could these demands be seen as concessions from the NHL. Seriously, how could anyone sit there with a perfectly straight face and say that those items are all in the favor of the players?
The lie is so brazen, so disgusting, it would almost be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
But that’s the story the NHL is trying to sell, and it’s a story that many who are only casual observers of the lockout will actually buy. However, there is a man who would like to set everyone straight on the idea that the NHL has made these concessions, and that man is the head of the NHLPA, Donald Fehr.
Fehr told HNIC Radio:
“The only way the owners have made a concession is if you treat seriously the notion that we (the NHL) made a first proposal which was horrible, terrible and miserable, and our second proposal was only horrible and terrible, so we moved in a new direction.”
I’m not one to blindly agree with either side in this battle, but there’s no doubt that Fehr is correct in his assessment. The NHL has not made concessions toward the players—not in any way, shape or form—and if it believes it has, if Bettman can convince them of that, we are all in deep, deep trouble.
But there’s no way they can believe that, is there?