The fools and the desperate are crawling out of the crumbling, old ice-arena now, panicked that the NHL and NHLPA might take their game and stay home again. Last lockout some fans tried to get a court injunction to take control of the Stanley Cup.
This time there is an Edmonton group calling for a boycott of businesses owned by NHL franchise owners. There are some ownership groups, the teacher's pension fund in Toronto comes to mind, who may prove difficult targets. The misguided enterprise will have virtually no impact but for what it's worth the group has a website at www.youhavetwoweeks.com .
Now they have not, incidentally, said what they'd do to the players if there's no contract, everyone is trashing the owners and not the guys making the buckets of money. Zach Parise at $98 million over 13 years with millions up front? He's okay. Get the owners. Alec Ovechkin and his 9.5 million a season, for which last year he produced 65 points in the regular season (he was a -8) and 9 in 14 playoff games? He's okay, get the owners.
Crazy times as NHL approaches lockout
There are many other examples of panic setting in, at least one highly objectionable. A writer for the Durham Region seems to be surprised no one's taken a shot - like with a gun - at Gary Bettman. It's an irresponsible and ridiculous thing to conjure up, though the writer does add "I would never condone such action, but at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised." Clever.
And the players are behaving questionably, trying to get an injunction to stop the lockout in Alberta and Quebec, provinces in which the NHLPA thinks that they can take advantage of labor laws to prevent the owners of the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens from locking their players out. To what end?
Erik Cole of Montreal, in defending it, said they're just trying to get the owners to realize there are people who depend on the league for their jobs. I expect the owners know that. Do the players? Cole suggests they could play under the old contract while negotiating and criticizes the owners for not seeing that point of view. But how about this: the owners don't feel the old contract is fair, Erik. So they don't want to play under it. Say - while you keep negotiating could you guys play under a contract the owners prefer?
Gary Bettman vs. Donald Fehr
Gary Bettman is right to say the owners won't negotiate with themselves, there was nothing new, no concession, in the last offer made by the players. Donald Fehr and the players have to stop trying to make up for caving to a salary cap 7 years ago, a system players have in fact done well by (and it's surely prevented ticket prices from rising even more than they have). They must also acknowledge that the kind of contracts Zach Parise, Ryan Suter and others have been given are not fair to fans and that owners who want to win can't help but offer them so rules must be in place to prevent them.
While the owners need to drop any notion of retroactively changing existing contracts, the players have to make an offer that shows real movement on revenue share. There is no real reason they should get 57 percent and the owners 43 and owners aren't going to back down from a more equitable share so without some give on the players part there will be no season. For some players it will be the second missed season of their career.
All that money, over $3 billion to share, and they can't find enough common ground to sit and talk. That's crazy and with all the blame being heaped upon the owners it's likely to get crazier before it gets done.
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