NHL Lockout: Moderate Owners Must Assert Influence to Save Season

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistDecember 21, 2012

...and the award for the worst commissioner in sports goes to....
...and the award for the worst commissioner in sports goes to....Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There’s a deal to be made that will save the NHL and it’s time for the group of people who have remained silent begin to speak up.

I’m talking about you, moderate owners of the NHL.

It’s easy to forget that these people actually exist, with NHL rules prohibiting owners from speaking publically about negotiations.

Well, rules were meant to be broken.

One member of the Board of Governors apparently already has.

Earlier this month, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun spoke with an unnamed NHL Governor, one who—like the rest of us—cannot believe that the lockout drags on:

One NHL governor told ESPN.com that they were shown both offers from the league and NHLPA in the board of governors meeting. 

"I looked at them both and wondered how this thing isn’t done already," he said. 

And those were previous offers. Not the ones from the past 24 hours that showed more movement from both sides. 

Are we to believe that this governor stands alone on an island, the only owner in the NHL who is shocked with the current state of affairs?

I think not.

The moderate owner exists.

I’m talking about guys like Pittsburgh Penguins owner Ron Burkle, who has won labor awards for his work in business negotiation deals between employer and employees.

Even James Dolan, owner of the New York Rangers and a man that New Yorkers love to hate (he charges us ridiculous prices for cable), is a moderate voice.

He was a key figure in bringing an end to the NBA lockout last year and Dolan’s Rangers stand to lose $60 million if the NHL season is cancelled, according the the New York Post's Larry Brooks.

Brooks also points out that a few years ago, Dolan called for a vote at a Board of Governors meeting, requesting that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman be removed from office.

Obviously the vote failed.

Assuming that neither Burkle nor Dolan is LeBrun’s mystery governor, that’s three owners who fall on the moderate side.

They aren’t the only three losing money with every day that the lockout continues—everyone is.

It’s time for the moderate voices in the room to take control of an out of control situation.

The time has come for them to band together and send a message to the small group of buffoons who are leading the NHL down the drain—Bettman, his loyal sidekick, Bill Daly, and their two attack dogs: Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and Calgary Flames owner Murray Edwards.

“Get out of the way.”

Somehow, that small group has convinced the entire room that losing tens of millions of dollars this year is worth it because every owner will pocket a few extra million dollars a year over the length of the next CBA.

It’s time for the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings to break that curse and demand an end to the madness.

If that means voting Bettman out of office and starting over, so be it.

But they must do something.

Only the moderate owners can save the NHL from it's biggest enemy.