Being the leader of the rich owner guys who did the locking out, NHL boss Gary Bettman gets the bad press. NHLPA boss Donald Fehr, on the other hand, leads hockey players who just wanna play - but play for salaries that are through the arena roof.
The player's resolve to play only if they continue increasing their massive salaries and steer as far away from a cutback as possible is the work of Fehr. He's convinced the 700 plus of them, whose collective salaries have grown by more than 50 percent in the past 8 years and who now, on average, make about $2.5 million per year, that it's in their best interest to miss games and possibly the entire season.
Donald Fehr: Stalling CBA negotiations
Fehr is more concerned with talking points than bargaining. When asked about the NHL's claim they lost $100 million in preseason ticket sales, he told the phalanx of media it was the owners decision to lose it because it was the owner's choice to lock the players out. They could still be playing under the old CBA while negotiating a new one, he reasoned. His response was disingenuous at best.
Prior to the lockout the contract movement from the NHLPA barely tipped the scales. If Fehr had shown a wiliness to move the numbers in a meaningful way perhaps he'd have an argument when he says they could play under the old CBA. He did not and being a veteran labor guy he is aware lockouts are what happens when the other side stalls negotiations.
The NHLPA still hasn't countered the owners last proposal made three weeks ago, and now that the first two weeks of the campaign are gone Fehr is sticking to blaming the league for not playing under the old CBA. But Fehr isn't bargaining in good faith now, with his membership out of work, so how can the owners expect he'd bargain in good faith if players were happily playing under the beneficial, to them, old CBA? Reasonably, they could not - hence the lockout.
NHL players: lost money, lost careers
Alexander Ovechkin will lose $9.5 million while Sidney Crosby will lose $7.5 million (next year $12 million) and they'll never get it back. Crosby's teammate Ben Lovejoy hasn't had a chance at earning the big money and is set to make $525,000 for 2012-13, the NHL minimum and for him a windfall. Next year he's a UFA and missing a year of playing - he's not talented enough to get an overseas gig - may see him lose his spot to a young AHL player who never missed a beat. Lovejoy will never get this year back and it may be his final chance at big money.
Ask Mike Modano or Bill Guerin if it was worth it missing a year the last time, both are on record as saying it was not. But they're the lucky ones, that last lockout didn't steal from them their last chance to win a Stanley Cup, they each had a ring already. Ask guys who have since retired without a ring if it was worth it, like Steve Thomas, Owen Nolan, Sami Kapanen, Yanic Perreault, Jeremy Roenick, Vincent Damphousse, Jason Wooley and Manny Fernandez. None of them ever won a Stanley Cup and the last lockout robbed almost all of their final chance.
Had the NHLPA negotiated in good faith they would surely have signed by now and the greatness of the NHL and the game, made greater by the near-parity brought on by a salary cap, would keep growing the revenue stream, as it has each year since the last lockout. The players would get back to where they were last season and the owners would get a more equitable share.
But he's not a hockey man, Fehr, he doesn't know the game, doesn't have enough faith in it, and the result may be another entire season down the CBA drain.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com