What leverage do the players have?

Owners would nuke the playoffs again (and they don’t care) – Niesy at Jewels From The Crown


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.



  5 comments for “What leverage do the players have?

  1. September 16, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    I agree. The players SHOULD stick to their guns, and they SHOULD hold out long enough – however long it takes – to make the next CBA lockout proof. They won’t, and it’s hard to explain why, but mainly because the player’s union has proven from the past that they don’t have it in them to hold out that long. Two or three years would ruin the league as we know it. Someone, somewhere, would form a competitor-type league (i.e. the WHA, etc.). If the NHL did come back after two years, yes, again, you are right, contraction will happen, and we may only see twenty teams. The “small markets” may no longer exist. How’s that for lockout proof?

    Of course, the main reason both sides won’t hold out forever until infinity is because the old CBA, as funky as it might have been in its idiosyncrasies, didn’t stop the flow of money. Both sides – the league as a whole – are making a shitload of money. Straight cash, homie.

  2. BringBackTheShieldJersey
    September 17, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    As I’ve written elsewhere, they can cancel hockey forever now that the Kings have won the Cup. An exaggeration, yes, but I can watch the 2012 playoffs for quite a while without getting bored. Furthermore, I already know the Kings will win 16 out of 20 games, and most importantly, that they win the Cup. Watching a game knowing your team will win is so much less stressful.

  3. Dan H.
    September 17, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    Usually I think the unions are the devil. In this case while I detest Fehr for his baseball fame (another wonderful non season), I find myself firmly on the players side.
    Owners sign big contracts (see Minnesota this year) and then want either the big market teams to pick up their bit, or have the players take a 22% hit in this case to ALL Salaries? Eat my shorts would be my quick and only response to that. The cap is there to make all teams fair. If you want to sign at the basement, that’s your issue but don’t bitch if you’re not competitive. If you sign big contracts you can’t afford, well that’s tough. We all have budgets (besides the government) that we have to live by. Own up to your signings or trade your high priced talent for assets.
    /rant off.

  4. variable
    September 17, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    mid/late november is the ultimate deadline…because of the nhl’s desire not to lose the winter classic…

    this is exactly fehr’s strength – uniting players based upon
    conscience of doing the right thing and trying to soften the blow the
    players are again gonna get hit with,as ethically as possible…

    the nhl wants to save it’s prize possession – the winter classic…that’s the only leverage the player have…and as you have mentioned before, this is more about larger markets
    fighting with smaller markets on revenue sharing – the players are gonna
    pick up the bill, regardless…it’s just a matter of how fehr can
    convince bettman to make the peace between the markets and resolve that
    internal dispute before he can actually go forward with resolving the
    players equitable share…

    every single proposal from the league at this point has been a sham – a ploy…

    i don’t expect anyone to blink -at least for awhile…

    remember, fehr has the intestinal fortitude and the leadership
    capabilities of convincing the players to hold out until they can get a
    fair deal…or should i say a “fehr deal”…

    just listen to westy…he’s in for a dime, in for a dollar with fehr and his beliefs and goals….

    …and isn’t westy a business/finance grad from princeton…?

  5. jewelsfromthecrown
    September 18, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Yeah, I mean, with Doughty, I’d seen enough to think “Why are you effing around with your franchise player?” And I still think they should have cut a deal before training camp.

    Here, I see an easy way to finesse this so that the owners ultimately get what they want (50%) while still meeting the players’ primary goal (no salary rollbacks/de facto escrow paycuts), and it could all be settled with a tidy bow before Jan 1st.

    But that alone won’t fix the league long term, and it won’t stop the cycle of lockouts from happening again. I like Ellen Etchingham’s histories. The NHL could use a rebel league or a truly radical union to oppose it. That would keep it innovative and honest.

    I think the thing that pisses me off the most is that the lockout probably won’t fix most of the MANY things that need fixing.

    So I’m pissed.

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