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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me four times, you need your head examined.

The NHL is surely the most dysfunctional family in all of sports, maybe in the history of labor-management relations. Four times in the last 20 years, the league and its players have volunteered to sit in the penalty box and off the ice. In 1992, they lost 30 games; in 1994, about the same; in 2004, they trashed the whole season, and the league just announced the cancellation of games through at least the first two weeks of the season.

I don’t have an opinion as to who is at fault but does either side have any concept as to what is going on in the world’s economy?

The average salary of the players in the league is a healthy $2.4 million. That is a half million dollars higher than the average salary in the NFL, which has three times the total revenue of the NHL.

Still, last year was the best year ever for the teams in terms of revenue, approaching almost three billion dollars. And its individual owners are no slouches either. The league boasts eight billionaires among its top brass, three more than are in Major League Baseball.

So why can’t these folks just get along? Is it the language barrier? After all the league has players from something like 14 nations and even the two thirds of the players which hail from North America seem to be divided equally between French and English speakers. Or is it just greed?

Since it’s obvious the two sides cannot figure out how to negotiate with one another, why not just submit to some sort of binding arbitration? They might be able to agree on an Administrative Law Judge from the Department of Labor. Or better yet, randomly pick three longtime season ticket holders, present your best case, and drop the puck.


What an unmitigated disaster this labor negotiation has been. The owners started negotiations with a scorched earth offer. They couldn't even justify why they were asking for some of the concessions they wanted. To Fehr and the NHLPA, it sounded like the attitude was "because we can". They don't need a mediator, they need couples therapy.

Anonymous Mike -- 10/04/2012 11:48 PM  

Would arbitration require the owners to open their books? The owners have never disclosed their non-player costs or non-HRR ancillary revenues. Disclosing that information to the arbitrator might give the NHLPA and the world access to that information. It would prove if the owners are lying about their financial difficulties, or show they're telling the truth and significantly reduce the book value of their franchises. Might be a non-starter for the owners if thats the case.

Anonymous Mike -- 10/05/2012 10:00 AM  

Why not dissolve the union and let everyone individually negotiate with their employer. No lockouts would be allowed. No salary caps or maximum salary would be allowed. What do players really get out of being in a union at this point? Giving the owners a non-statutory labor exemption is simply not worth the leverage it gives the owners.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/10/2012 11:18 AM  

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