So the possibility of a lockout certainly seems more like a real possibility now than maybe it did a couple of weeks ago, but I choose to keep optimistic about the season starting on time or only fashionably late.
My last hope for optimism is the number of new owners around the league, while this could also be the problem. Half of these owners were not a part of the last CBA, but when you look at new ownership groups in Dallas, Phoenix, St. Louis, and of course Toronto, all are going to want their teams on the ice. Throw in the new team in Winnipeg and a team in Edmonton trying desperately to come up with funds for a new rink, they are going to want to play. The other side of that is there are plenty of teams that will lose money by playing and they will hold up the process. Once again showing the issue is more about owners vs. owners than owners vs. players.
The case for the players wanting to play is a bit more obvious. Very few players are going to have careers that extend past 10 years, and for most they will only have one big contract during their career. It is more likely that most will be bouncing between the AHL, Europe, and the NHL. With that in mind, most players arenâ€™t going to sacrifice one year of potential income, which could potentially be 1/10th of their lifetime earnings. Itâ€™s also arguable that with such a limited period to earn what they can, itâ€™s harsh to cut their salaries that were negotiated in good faith. For every Sidney Crosby making $8.7 million a year living in mansions, there are probably five players like Paul Bissonette living in bachelor suite apartments.
Thatâ€™s not to say that anyone had anything to gain from the last lockout either, and it didnâ€™t prevent it from happening. Is this time really that different?
It should be. What we have learned from the past seven years is that NHL teams have little appetite to get their spending under control. And while they could bump down salaries down, there is no reason to believe they will stay down this time. Itâ€™s questionable that older UFAs, and longer ELC terms, will do anything to save on salary. If anything, it may actually mean that we see a more frequent appearance of overpriced offer sheets and long term RFA deals.
If there was something to worry about this week, itâ€™s that so many members of the NHLPA felt comfortable expressing their distaste for Gary Bettman publicly. When the NHLPAâ€™s own twitter feed is linking to articles about Bettman playing dirty, itâ€™s safe to say that cordial negotiations have ended and typical labour talks have begun. Itâ€™s unfortunate, but far too often this is a regular part of the process.
For now I will avoid being an alarmist, but the reality is Iâ€™ve purchased several WHL tickets and have avoided NHL games so far. I donâ€™t doubt that an eleventh hour deal is coming, but donâ€™t think it will be September 15th. Iâ€™m willing bet itâ€™s a couple weeks later at the cost of a few rescheduled games and a shorter preseason.
A few links…
Bettman Playing Dirty
It certainly seems like most of the media is completely committed to the NHLPA point of view. In all fairness cutting salary is pretty harsh and makes it easy to take the players side. That being said once we see the playerâ€™s counteroffer the sympathy could be gone.
GREG MCKEGG ON OFF-SEASON TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
JP Nikota of Leafs Nation with an interview with McKeggstand.
Something to Stu on
Hope in the Big Smoke takes a look at Stuart Percy
OHL Prospects 30 Teams in 30: Toronto Maple Leafs
OHL Prospects takes a look at who the Leafs have kicking around the OHL
Andreas Lijla says heâ€™s out 4 months, as Flyers lose another defenseman
How many more blueliners do they need to lose before Mike Komisarek seems like a good idea?
Canada tries for 5th Straight Gold at Ivan Hlinka Tournament
If you didnâ€™t get your fill of nationalism during the Olympics, the U-18â€™s and the Canada-Russia Challenge have your back.
Remembering Your Favourite Maple Leaf Broadcaster
Vintage Leaf Memories is looking for feedback on who is your voice of the Leafs. For me it will always be Bob Cole and Harry Neale, but I donâ€™t mind Joe Bowen either.