Sunday, August 5, 2012

Booing the wrong side

(courtesy NHLPA)
Maybe somebody can explain this to me as I don't understand why hockey fans are so quick to blame the NHL players for the problems with the current NHL/NHLPA CBA talks? Don't people realize they are blaming the wrong side for why the NHL is once again headed towards a lockout on September 15th?

It is not just a possibility, it in my opinion is exactly what Gary Bettman and the NHL owners have been wanting all along. If you don't think that the intention of the NHL is to break the NHLPA once and for all then you nave are not been watching what is going on.

The first shot was the NHL announcing to the the NHLPA that on MAY 15th that they (the NHL) will be terminating the current CBA when it expires on September 15th?

The second was this idea of a fair first proposal from the NHL.

Really what part of the owner's offer even comes close to just being fair? Reducing the player's share to 46%? Extending the entry level contract length to 5 years? Getting rid of arbitration altogether?

10 years service before unrestricted free agency? Eliminate signing bonuses? Limiting contract lengths to 5 years? The players are being asked to once again protect the NHL from themselves.

It was the Philadelphia Flyers who made the offer to Shea Weber just days after the NHL made their first contract proposal to the NHLPA not the other way around. If you are thinking that the players are overpaid then ask yourself how come NHL owners and GMs can't say "I am not going to pay these kinds of salaries"?

If your first answer is because some other team will pay that kind of salary remember it was the team not the player that you just said was willing to pay the salary. Not please don't sit there and say that the players for the good of the game should turn down these insane offers.

Really what pisses me off the most about the current state of the NHL? It is those very owners who are demanding that the players give back the most are the very same people who caused these conditions in the first place.

"We're not making money, and that's one reason we need to fix our system. We need to fix how much we're spending right now. [The Wild's] revenues are fine. We're down a little bit in attendance, but we're up in sponsorships, we're up in TV revenue. And so the revenue that we're generating is not the issue as much as our expenses. And [the Wild's] biggest expense by far is player salaries."

Those were the words of Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold back in April. Yes the same team that signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to twin 13 year contracts for $98 million.

Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski AKA Puck Daddy said it best when he wrote:

Leipold's words in April and deeds in July make him a hypocrite: Crying about expenses related to player salaries, and then adding $196 million in expenses for two players. Unless, of course, he meant the Wild would fix their spending levels by inflating them for the two largest contracts in franchise history.

It is not the players who are coming up with the creative ways to cheat the salary cap; it is the owners and general managers who are. I can guarantee you that before the NHLPA even votes on the next CBA that there will be NHL teams looking for the loopholes to exploit.

If there isn't a new agreement before September 15th then I can see this playing out in two very likely scenarios.

The first is that the NHL will lockout the players claiming that they can no longer afford to operate under the current CBA. This time I hope that fans and media realize that it wasn't the players who created this climate but Gary Bettman and the owners/general managers.

The second one which I have to admit I am really hoping for because I believe it will backfire in Gary Bettman's face big time. That would be for the NHL to impose their current proposal on the players which in turn will leave the players no other choice but to go on strike.

In a battle between Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, bet on the guy who has faced down the owners of Major League Baseball. Gary Bettman has never had to deal with a real leader on the other of the table.

Blaming the players for what has happened is a huge mistake because they are not the ones who are creating the conditions that will lead to another lockout. The owners are and really whether you support the players or not there is one thing we all can agree on.

That the fans will wind up paying in the end.

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