Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to welcome Ian Dudgeon to the MLHS blogging team. Ian was one of the co-founders of McKeen’s Hockey.com. He’s been busy at work assembling a database of profiles on Leafs prospects for MLHS, which you’ll be able to enjoy before long. He’s also going to be chiming in with a blog here and there.
Everyone please calm down and resume taking your medication. I have some extra Valium if you need some. There is no imminent NHL lockout. You will not be forced to watch basketball in October or November, or whenever they start playing that alleged sport. I think we will have hockey when we are supposed to and the threat of a lockout or strike is being artificially inflated by sports media who love, live for and need controversy.
The NHL tabled a proposal to the NHLPA this weekend and the collective reaction was as if everyoneâ€™s favourite commish, Gary â€œThe Countâ€ Bettman took the Stanley cup and used it to prop up his car while he rotated the tires. From fans and media alike, it was one of the craziest overreactions I have heard since.. well since the Leafs last made a move. But really, I should stop being surprised at how sports media react to things and how fans take their cues from them. The little picture numbers seemed scary but stepping back and seeing the bigger landscape, the NHLâ€™s proposal was really not that concerning.
I am always amazed at how the ever reactive sports media seem to have such a difficult time understanding how negotiations are run. Oh wait, maybe thatâ€™s because they are guys and gals who write about sports, not lawyers or chartered accountants? That might be it, yep. Yet it seems like many believe they are when they speak about the subject. Did they all hack into mainframes at University of Phoenix and print out law degrees? No, silly. Please folks, remember this when you read their columns and diatribes on the subject – they really are no more an expert than you or I. Sure, they may know some guy in an NHL back office named Shuggy, who saw Bill Daly sitting in his office wringing his hands as the latest NHL proposal to the PA came crunching out of his dot matrix printer, but really can you trust a guy named Shuggy anyway?? (this was not intended to offend anyone named Shuggy, and if did, I apologize).
Naturally, Larry Brooks jumped out first and said it the NHLâ€™s proposal was a â€œdeclaration of warâ€. If you follow this man and think what he says isÂ more than sensationalist silly talk, you need more medication, as does he. This is simply a ridiculous position. Yes, the NHLâ€™s offer had some dramatic requests in it, but when you start a negotiation you shoot for the moon. The fact that both sides continued to meet and discuss tells me the PA didnâ€™t exactly take the proposal as â€œwar.” The old ultra-combative Bob Goodenow days are gone. Fehr is tough as nails but he also clearly gets that threats and fist pounding on the desk doesnâ€™t get things done.
So, why do I think there is little to get worried about? At least right now, I donâ€™t see any reason to panic about there not being hockey in October. The current deal does not expire until September. Teams have already filled out their rosters and have freely spent like drunken sailors this summer just like any other. Unlike the NBA, where their CBA expired shortly after the previous season which then froze teams from making any moves until a new deal was completed, the NHL and PA wisely set this contract up to expire well after July 1, allowing teams to fully prepare for the 2012-13 season.
As well, any deal that gets struck between now and… whenever… is likely to have minimal impact on the 2012-13 season and team rosters. Letâ€™s say for example that a new CBA is signed in December 1 and there is a $15 mil drop to the cap. Is that going to take effect December 2? Of course not. Any change such as that will come into play next off-season, otherwise it would create mass chaos in the middle of a year. That simply cannot and will not happen. In all likelihood, whatever gets agreed to will take effect July 1 of 2013. I would bet my nicest sweater vest on it.
All teams are ready to play next season, with contracts signed and fully functioning rosters mostly in place. It would be in the leagueâ€™s and PAâ€™s best interest to let the season start and go on while they negotiate in the background. With record revenue to make, there is zero logical reason to prevent the season from starting. Fehr also suggested recently that they were in support of the season continuing on. With $3 billion in revenue to enjoy, I assume by now that every player and owner each has a pool full of gold coins they swim in each morning like Scrooge McDuck. They wouldnâ€™t dare risk having to empty those pools. Not this time.
Where it could get ugly is if we reach January without a new CBA. The threat of a strike or lockout at that point would be much more real and impactful as it would pose an abrupt stoppage in play mid- season, similar to what happened to Major League Baseball in 1994. Â That season ended on August 11, never to resume with no World Series played. It devastated the sport for years.Â But it is way too early to be thinking like that, and there’s certainly a more plausible outcome to all of this that the MSMâ€™s arenâ€™t even thinking about.
In the end, I believe this whole notion of â€œwarâ€ being declared is rather premature and more than a little far fetched. Continue to enjoy your summer without losing sleep over whether or not there will be hockey in October. And be sure to top up the meds, if necessary.