Owners cannot police themselves when it comes to spending money on high-priced free agents.
The NHL is locking out its players because it wants to ensure its financial viability.
The NHL is attempting to change the financial landscape of the league by paying smaller salaries and making the terms of those contracts shorter in length.
That's what this lockout is all about.
The owners need rules in place that keep them from paying too much of their own money to the players that they employ.
The owners cannot police themselves. They can't impose their own limits—they need financial restraints in order to save the owners from themselves.
The NHL has increased its revenue stream dramatically over the last seven years since the 2004-05 lockout, but those gains have not been enough to help them survive their own inability to hold back on their own spending.
These owners apparently no longer possess the same discipline that they needed to make their millions in the first place. Instead of setting a budget and sticking to it, they need rules to help them make money on their hockey investment.
Shouldn't the NHL owners have been able to see their financial problems as they were unfolding? Did they really need to play out the full term of the last agreement before trying to fix the problem?
Couldn't the NHL owners have found a way to work on the problem all along, rather than just lock the players out at the end of the CBA?
This is a confrontation that did not have to happen.
If the situation was really so bad, the NHL could have taken a mature approach and gone to their partners in the NHLPA and shown them last year or the year before how the system was not working.
Instead of locking the players out in 2012-13, why couldn't the NHL have shown the NHLPA the documented issues and asked the players to work on a compromise?
That would have been better than putting this all on the players' heads when the CBA ran out on Sept. 15.
The current situation is dark, angry and childish.
Modern labor negotiations require reason and the exchange of ideas, not Draconian take-it-or-leave-it demands.
Gary Bettman didn't realize this and the NHL finds itself in a major mess that may result in the cancellation of the 2012-13 season.