The Best Way To Get A Deal Done?
It’s day 62 of the NHL lockout, and the outlook doesn’t look much better than it did on day 1. Players and owners can’t seem agree on how to get to a 50/50 split of hockey related revenue (or what hockey related revenue is, for that matter), player contracting rights, team revenue sharing, and many more topics of varying degrees of significance.
So after a semi-promising few days of negotiations — the longest period of talks since the lockout began — that turned sour toward week’s end, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has come up with a better plan to get the job done.
Take some time off. Stop negotiating. Cease talks.
I’m no labor expert, but it sounds like this just might work!
(hint: note the heavy sarcasm)
Bettman made a suggestion Wednesday, according to Kevin Allen of the USA Today, to take a two-week break in the negotiation process because talks seem to be going nowhere.
Said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daily, according to Allen: “At this point, there’s not much more we have to offer. We feel like we have given a lot (and the union has offered nothing) and I’m not sure there is much more to give. Maybe a break might give both sides a chance to assess where we are.”
It also will give both sides less time to negotiate to salvage what is becoming an increasingly shortened season. With games already canceled through the end of November, and a cancellation of at least some of December’s games looming, how much time do the two sides really have?
If we take the proposed two-week break break literally, talks won’t resume until Wednesday, November 28, at the earliest.
So lets make a few assumptions here…
If the talks take just one week — and that’s a big if — that puts an end to the lockout on December 5. Give the players a week to convene, and we’re at December 12. Give an additional one-week training camp, and we’re at December 19.
Such a start date wouldn’t be all bad, as it likely would leave somewhere around 60 games in a shortened and condensed season that likely would drag the playoffs into late June or early July.
But this whole scenario assumes the two-week break has an impact on players and owners and the next round of negotiations are less about posturing and more about getting a deal done.
To date, I’ve seen nothing that suggests this is likely.
On one side, you have Bettman and Daly talking about how they’ve “given a lot.” If by giving a lot, they mean they’ve proposed to take away 8% of the players’ revenue, they sure have!
On the other side, you have NHLPA Head Donald Fehr saying he wants to reach an agreement for his union, but with each passing day it seems more and more as if he’s attempting to rewrite the professional athlete union’s role in labor negotiations, while pushing the NHL in the direction of MLB.
As sad and unfair as it is, it never was about the NHL, the game of hockey, the fans, or the employees and entrepreneurs who make a living off of NHL games.
What it all boils down to is master negotiator versus master negotiator, ego versus ego, legacy versus legacy.
As they always say, it’s always darkest before dawn.
But it’s pretty dark right now — even for this optimist.