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Op-Ed: NHL and NHLPA failing at new CBA for one reason - Donald Fehr

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 16, 2012 in Sports
If you insist on blaming the NHL lockout solely on Gary Bettman, that's fine. But while you're at it go ahead and blame the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic entirely on the tip of the iceberg. The evidence suggests someone else at work.
Here is a passage from writer David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail and his November 16 story on the lockout and the current CBA impasse: "One owner said he is willing to risk cancelling the season rather than sign what he considers a bad collective agreement. He is well aware he is losing fans every day, the owner said, but simply cannot agree to a deal he thinks would make it impossible for him to turn a profit."
Donald Fehr: it's NHL owners fault
What part of that don't the players get? Let's couple that with a passage from a September story by Forbes magazine's Kurt Badenhausen, known for producing well-researched, accurate stories. "We estimated that 18 teams lost money during the 2010-11 season in our annual look at the business of hockey," he wrote. "Several other teams barely eked out a profit."
The players appear to support their union head, Donald Fehr, but given the above the question is: how is he keeping that support? Is he telling them the owners are lying? It's either that or he's telling them the owners are to blame for their loses so they, the players, should continue to make on average some $2.5 million a season, with top end players making much more. (At 25, Sidney Crosby has made over $47 million in his NHL career and starting in 2013-14 is due to make $12 million a season through 2015-16, at which point he will drop all the way down to $10.9 million).
Donald Fehr blames owners for their own poor management of money but owners are competitive, are trying to win, which leads to large, often reckless, contracts. If the owners got together and agreed not to go overboard on contracts the players would have them in court for collusion, and win. So they need a salary cap and they need contract restrictions (on that point, do players want to lose a season so a handful of guys can sign 12 year contracts?).
NHL: New CBA requires drop in pay
Whichever owner Shoalts spoke to he could not reveal, but others are saying the same thing and the players have to start listening. The only way to do that is to first stop listening to Fehr, a man who feels his reputation is on the line and is seeking a 'win' rather than considering his membership, fans and those who depend on the league operating for employment. The players have to recognize that they will continue to make great salaries even with the concessions they're being asked to make; indeed, the average salary won't fall below $2.2 million a season, a number that will increase with the NHL's continued success.
If you like, go ahead and blame Gary Bettman for being the guy who delivers the news, the tip of the iceberg, but look a little deeper and you'll find Donald Fehr lurking underneath the waves.
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
More about donald fehr, Gary bettman, nhl negotiations, nhl lockout, NHLPA
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