Here We Go Again

Posted September 13, 2012

On Thursday, both the NHL Players Association and the NHL Board of Governors met at separate hotels in New York City. But once again, they’re drawing closer and closer to the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement and a have yet to make a deal.

At approximately 3:30 in the afternoon, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman took to the dais at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and addressed the media about what had transpired during the Board of Governors Meeting. According to Bettman, the Board met for two hours and “there was a complete show of support, both for what [the Board and Bettman] have been doing in bargaining and how the negotiations have been conducted- the positions we’ve taken… and we’re prepared to not open a new season without a new collective bargaining agreement.”

Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

As the hockey community braces for its third work stoppage since Gary Bettman became commissioner of the NHL in 1993, this time around has a less “doom and gloom” aura around it. The focus of this stoppage is revenue sharing, not the salary cap fiasco that handcuffed the 2004 season. Revenue sharing is a lot easier to negotiate, but it takes the right numbers to satisfy both sides. Bettman during his media session mentioned that costs have gone up, which makes the 57% of the revenue split the players are currently receiving impossible to continue. He even said that “the cost of jet fuel has gone up 175% since the last lockout,” to use an example of the rising costs owners face. While this may be true, many fans feel no sympathy for the Commissioner or the Board, due to the fact of the exorbitant contracts owners have handed out to players and have agreed to pay them.

Commissioner Bettman did address the fans during his press conference, after being asked what he would say to them in the wake of yet another work stoppage:

“Listen, nobody wants to make a deal and play hockey more than I do. This is what I do, this is what my life is about in terms of how I spend most of my waking hours. This is really hard, and so you only get involved in this situation when you understand what the issues are and know you’re doing the right thing for the long-term stability for our game and for our sport. This is really hard and I feel terrible about it.”

And unless a deal gets done before Saturday evening, everyone in the hockey community is going to feel terrible about it, too.