NHL Lockout: Is a Split in the NHLPA Inevitable at This Point?

Nicholas GossCorrespondent INovember 18, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13:  Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association meets with the media at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on September 13, 2012 in New York City. Joining him from left to right is Ruslan Fedotenko, Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

NHL players have already lost multiple paychecks in the current lockout and have been unable to negotiate a deal with the league's owners after more than two months of CBA talks, but don't expect a split in the NHLPA to happen anytime soon.

There are certainly players who need a season more than others, especially guys who either play a specific role (grinder, enforcer, etc.), don't have a large salary or long-term contract, and have just a few years remaining until retirement. This has to be considered.

However, the players trust NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, and should feel comfortable knowing they have arguably the best negotiator in sports bargaining with commissioner Gary Bettman and hard-line owners such as Jeremy Jacobs of the Boston Bruins.

There is absolutely no reason for the union to split and give up on what has been an impressive display of togetherness throughout this work stoppage.

The players must make the owners regret locking them out, costing them millions of dollars and risking the sport's record revenue and growth.

To accomplish this goal, the NHLPA must stand firm, even if that means losing an entire year to show the owners that these lockouts aren't an effective way to win labor disputes.

If they allow certain things to divide them, the NHLPA will have wasted the last few months trying to get a deal when they could have been playing hockey, earning money and not losing fans.

The players have come too far to give up now, especially when you consider the fact that the two sides have communicated far more than they did during the first few months of the last lockout.

There still isn't a colossal gap between the two sides on key labor issues such as the split of hockey-related revenue (HRR) and revenue sharing, so there's no reason to resort to drastic measures (such as De-certification) in order to kick-start more negotiations.

The players' dislike of Bettman has given them the strength and unity that was lacking in their union during the previous lockout. They are in this together, and will not allow a few missed paychecks and short-term frustration to result in the loss of millions of dollars later in their careers.

There's too much at stake for the players. The NHLPA cannot make enormous concessions on the major economic issues two lockouts in a row and expect to see salaries grow at the rate they did over the last seven years.

The players will probably make a few more concessions before the lockout ends, but a split isn't likely to happen after the union's problems during the previous work stoppage.

If anything, hockey fans should watch for a possible split among the owners at some point.