We are very close to losing the hockey season. Believe it.
And no it’s not the fault of one person, who, for the sake of our story, we’ll call Gary ‘I hate hockey’ Bettman. No it’s the fault of 31 very wealthy individuals – the 30 National Hockey League owners and Bettman. I’m sick and tired of the discourse suggesting it’s the fault of both sides, both of whom are spoiled rich kids. False!
Think about it for a second. What kind of business locks out its employees every single time the collective agreement ends? Imagine if – oh let me pick a company name out of a hat – Molson Coors did that. That it locked out its staffers every time the contract expired instead of negotiating.
Just imagine how Canadians would feel about that. It would be totally unacceptable. It goes against everything we believe in. Unions have a right to exist Gary and it’s is totally despicable that you’re trying to crush one. This is the third straight time Bettman has responded to the end of a collective agreement with the sledgehammer that is a lockout.
The argument goes that the players are millionaire whiners. That they should just shut up and play. But if they are exceptionally well-paid, it’s because they make money for the owners. The owners make money. You know that. Revenue has been on the rise big-time since the last collective agreement was put in place.
Sure there are teams that lose money – but that’s because Bettman has been pushing hockey into places like Phoenix and Nashville where the sport will never be a money-maker. All the signs prove that but Bettman refuses to budge because……well because he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t back down once he takes a decision.
Habs owner Geoff Molson says he has full confidence in Mr. Bettman: “Gary’s in charge of our league, he’s doing a good job, and it’s a process that’s underway that I’m not going to get involved with publicly.”
In the same piece by Gazette sports scribe Dave Stubbs, Molson says he is not actively involved in the negotiations, confirming many of our worst fears. In other words, Bettman is running the show Captain Queeg-style – ask your dad about the character, the oppressive leader in Herman Wouk’s great novel The Caine Mutiny – with the support of a small cabal of the most radical anti-union leaders. People like Jeremy Jacobs in Boston who, as Pat Hickey writes in his column Saturday, “appears to be motivated by greed. He’d like to pad his profit margin without having to share with any of his less fortunate players.”
On Friday, Bettman and his union-bashers cancelled games through Dec. 14, along with the All-Star game, which was set to take place in Columbus. (Again, kudos to Bettman. Here you have a great chance to boost the sport in a place like Columbus, Ohio that needs all the convincing possible to watch hockey and you nuke that opportunity. Way to go pal!)
Richard Labbe in La Presse notes that the owners have now cancelled 34.3-percent of the season. Meanwhile Donald Fehr mentions once again that the two sides are only $182 million apart and that each day of the lockout, per the owners’ stats, the league is losing between $18 and $20 million. So, Fehr adds, those two weeks just cancelled represents more than the $182 million that separates the two sides.
Get it? It’s not about money. The NHLPA has already lost this negotiation. They have agreed to a 50-50 split of revenue, which will cost the players hundreds of millions of dollars given that the players right now take home 57-percent of the revenue. $182 million is maybe two big player contracts. So no this isn’t a fight about bucks. It’s an attempt to destroy Fehr and his union. And that frankly is a repulsive thing to do and you don’t have to be a hockey fan to realize that this is not the kind of behaviour our society should be condoning.
So yeah, great job Gary.