This labor dispute will be decided by the owners.
It will be over when they want it to be over. This is not a give-and-take negotiation between two sides. This is about how much more the men with overwhelming, disproportionate power can get.
They are billionaires. Small hits don’t concern them. “Givebacks” are made against their own proposals. Concessions are relative.
This lockout’s not hard for them, and they don’t feel terrible about it. They don’t weep for the state of this league. Every penny the owners lose from missed games this season will be offset by hundreds of millions they’ll save in the future.
The moment I realized that is the moment I knew hockey wasn’t going to start on time.
Niesy, you will recall conversations we had this time last year when Drew Doughty held out and my reaction was (let’s just say) a little more vindictive than yours. You wanted everyone to be smart and make a deal. I was reasoning more along the lines of “if Doughty is arrogant enough to hold out, the Kings should just carry on without him and yield not one inch.” As we know, everything worked out pretty well for Doughty and the Kings last year.
But now, a year later, another contract dispute. This one between the owners and the players. And (tonight at least) I find myself in f*** you mode, taking the side of the players against the owners. Because, in the end, it’s the owners who are willing to “split the baby.”
And it really riles me up when people say things like “we took away all their leverage when we canceled the playoffs in 2005.” My reaction to that is to wonder what would happen if the players resolved to stick to their guns to a level unimaginable to any of us, but of course especially to those arrogant fucks who own NHL teams and are so sure the players will have to cave sooner or later.
I think the goal of the NHL players ought to be to hold out for as long as it takes to build into the next CBA safeguards (in the form of draconian penalties, whatever it takes) that there can be no further lock-outs, that this can never happen again.
I’m thinking, what if the players resolve to stick to their guns for two or three seasons?
Would it be worth it? To get a CBA that is lock-out proof? Tonight, as I’m typing this, I think so. Because the other thing it would do is either force the big market teams to pay for the smaller markets, or force contraction (if indeed contraction is or would be the healthy thing to do in a free market) — but whichever way that goes, it would certainly end with the firing of Gary Bettman and the evisceration of his egomaniacal legacy.