Recent Developments Akin To Playground Bickering
We’ve seen at all during this lockout.
What initially seemed to be a short work stoppage, if any at all, has turned into a complete embarrassment for the league, the players, and the sport of hockey.
As I spoke with my FF colleague Joshua Neal yesterday, a rather interesting and telling point was made. Both sides are so worried about the public’s perception of this lockout that they’re essentially going in circles trying to look better than the other side.
It’s gotten to the point that the two sides no longer simply are disagreeing on the issues at hand, they’re disagreeing about how close they are to a deal and whether meetings actually took place.
Seriously. I’m not kidding.
Earlier this week, a mediator was brought in to help advance negotiations. At one point, NHLPA head Don Fehr said meetings took place that morning, while NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said no meetings happened.
I can understand disagreeing over philosophies, principles, ideologies, and concepts for improving the game of hockey and the NHL. What I can’t understand is how the two sides could disagree on factual things — and better yet, why they would want to.
It’s gotten to the point that the two sides are sniping at one another the way two grade schoolers playing “wall ball” on the playground would.
And, in the day and a half since mediation ended, it’s gotten worse.
Late Thursday, the NHLPA took steps toward desertification, which would essentially dissolve the union, allowing players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL with hopes of ending the lockout.
Though desertification has not yet happened, a vote by a small group of board members has allowed for the rank and file to voice their opinions in a voting process that likely will last until Thursday. (Updated thanks to reader Ben Schmidt’s correction)
Many reputable sources in the national media have noted two things associated with this news.
- This move is purely a method of posturing and that the union will not be dissolved. In other words, this is an empty and obviously transparent threat that serves only to add to the mudslinging already in progress.
- If, by chance, this is not posturing, the act of dissolving the union would put a definitive end to the season and could extend the lockout into next season.
My response to both: nice. Just what we need, more useless, backward thinking.
But wait, it gets even better.
Last evening, news broke that the NHL has filed a lawsuit against the players for “unfair labor practice.”
Remember that mudslinging I just mentioned? Yeah, this is the NHL’s response. More mudslinging.
So now, instead of simply negotiating with one another, both the NHL and NHLPA have taken action to get the legal system involved. Part of the NHL’s lawsuit proposes all existing contracts between players and teams be null and void, essentially making every player a free agent.
On one hand, this news looks real ominous, like when you’re watching a horror movie and it’s blatantly obvious to everyone, except the pretty girl, that she is about to be killed by the man with a chainsaw standing behind her.
On the other hand, the NBA and its player’s association took similar actions around this time last year. The result was a labor agreement just two weeks later.
But if we have learned one thing throughout this lockout it’s that nothing is predictable. When things look bleak, a major breakthrough happens and things look amazing. And, of course, when things look amazing, someone in the negotiations sneezes at the wrong time and Bettman pulls all existing offers off the table.
The longer this lockout lasts, the more obvious it’s becoming that neither side is in the right. And, as we learned from our teachers on the playground (after that “wall ball” blow up, of course) is that two wrongs don’t equal a right.
And, in this case, two idiots (Fehr and Bettman) don’t equal a genius.
So let’s sit back and watch as the two sides continue to bicker over what Fehr and the NHLPA call a small gap and what Bettman and the owners call a major void.
What’s becoming glaringly obvious to those on the outside is that this is a serious situation that could have major ramifications for what has become a joke of a professional sports league.
Unfortunately, neither side understands just how serious this is, as evidenced by this Tweet from the NHLPA’s resident comedian Paul Bissonnette: “Should I mention ‘being sued by NHL’ on my McDonald’s resume?”