5 Biggest Goats of the NHL Lockout Thus Far
There are certain people in this NHL lockout who have tried to play the role of hero and make a new CBA to save the season.
Then there are the goats who have done very little to help this process, and, in some cases, have actually prevented a deal from getting done for a variety of reasons.
Let's look at the five biggest goats of the 2012 lockout thus far.
Donald Fehr has done his best to get the players' association a good deal, but being a humble diplomat just isn't in his negotiating playbook.
The NHLPA executive director does his best to frustrate the leaders on the other side and make it difficult for meaningful negotiations to take place.
This is an effective strategy to reach a CBA that doesn't result in large salary reductions and the loss of player contract rights, but it also hinders the progress of the bargaining process.
He has succeeded in angering the owners and league commissioner Gary Bettman thus far; finalizing a new CBA will not be easy primarily because of how Fehr has played this lockout.
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post shared an interesting tweet on Thursday, and I would imagine that many hockey fans agree.
Anybody else starting to think maybe Donald Fehr is the big problem now from everybody getting their game back? I am— adater (@adater) December 6, 2012
Gary Bettman doesn't want to be the only commissioner in North American sports history to lose two full seasons because of labor disputes, but unless he can persuade the owners to work with Donald Fehr and give the players a little bit more in negotiations, the 2012-13 season could be in serious danger.
In Bettman's defense, there's only so much he can do—the owners will ultimately decide when this will end.
However, when Bettman rips Fehr and the players' union publicly, he's not helping this process one bit. In fact, he's probably strengthening the NHLPA's resolve.
The NHL's Board of Governors chairman and owner of the Boston Bruins has become one of the faces of the lockout.
His hard-line stance in negotiations has hurt his reputation among sports fans across North America, not just in Boston, where Bruins fans are hoping that their team can make another Stanley Cup run this season.
Many Bruins fans actually booed Jacobs during his speech at the team's Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony last October.
Jacobs isn't the only hard-line owner who has regularly taken part in negotiations throughout the lockout, but as arguably the most powerful owner in the sport, he has not done enough to negotiate with the players' union and end the work stoppage.
Players Bashing Bettman
One of the unfortunate parts of this lockout has been the abundance of players who have insulted the commissioner.
It's great that the NHLPA allows its members to speak freely during the lockout, and it would really be nice if the owners spoke just as often, but it's not smart for union leadership to allow players to insult Bettman just because they are mad at the lack of progress being made in CBA talks.
The players' dislike for Bettman is understandable, but unneeded personal attacks shouldn't be shared publicly.
Let's look at some examples of players who should have thought about what they were saying before talking about Bettman on Twitter or in an interview with the media:
Connor Carrick of the Washington Capitals:
The fact that bettman makes more money than most of the players actually in the league #Garbage I just really dislike the guy— Connor Carrick (@connorcarrick) September 16, 2012
John-Michael-Liles of the Toronto Maple Leafs:
Just wanted to send out big congrats to gray bettman on his 3rd consecutive work stoppage. Impressive stats for someone w no athletic skill— John-Michael Liles (@hoosierjm26) September 16, 2012
Kris Versteeg in a radio interview.
Kris Versteeg tells @tsn1050radio in Toronto that Bettman and Daly are "cancers' that have been "looting this game for far too long".— TEAM Radio (@TEAM1040) November 19, 2012
Detroit Red Wings veteran Ian White also made some comments about Bettman that he would probably like to have back, but at least he realizes what he said was wrong (via Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports):
White, by the way, regrets use of "idiot" in describing Commissioner Bettman. Says no matter how he feels personally, there is no room...— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 19, 2012
For name-calling in this process.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) November 19, 2012
Owners Who Left New York City Without a Deal on Thursday
When the NHL offered the union another take-it-or-leave-it kind of proposal last week, the players decided to make a counter offer.
The league rejected it and Bettman met with reporters shortly after to share his frustration. The bottom line is that the league didn't work hard enough to make a deal last week after consecutive days of positive talks.
According to Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports, Leafs minority owner Larry Tanenbaum was willing to reach a new CBA last week, but he left town before one could be made.
Leafs' Larry Tanenbaum: "We're going to continue to talk up until we get a deal." Asked if more clear where sides stand: "Absolutely."— Nick Cotsonika (@cotsonika) December 5, 2012
All of the owners involved in talks last week should have remained in New York until a deal was reached. Instead, we have no CBA and the level of anger on both sides has risen to another level.