The NHL and its players say a deal can be done if the big issues can be resolved yet the sides aren’t willing to compromise
We are now 30 days into this current version of the owner/player stalemate and at this point it just might be too early to see an end game. You see, if Tuesday’s bargaining session leads to a resolution of this war and the season can be salvaged, many on both sides will actually wonder why a settlement couldn’t have been accomplished over the summer. They would certainly have a legitimate complaint.
While we have had our fill of rhetoric and propaganda, spinning and barbs, we haven’t seen any desire for either side to compromise. Yes, compromise!
That’s not a word we’ve heard a great deal from the NHL or the NHL Players’ Association. We’ve heard other “C” words…like Core, as in “Core economics”… or Common, as in “Common ground,” which there doesn’t appear to be enough during this lockout.
So how do we get to compromise? More importantly, how do we get to a compromise without Don Fehr or Gary Bettman losing face? The League maintains it is up to the Players to put the next offer on the table. Bettman and Daly snuck into town 10 days ago, and tried to pry one out of Fehr.
On their conference call on Friday, the players en masse reaffirmed to the executive director NOT to advance any offer unless the NHL show something back first.
The owners have always asked for some sort of salary adjustment. And if the players’ proposal doesn’t include such a rollback, then there is no point in talking.
So much for compromise.
So why won’t the players put another offer on the table?
The players still remember the 24 per cent rollback as part of one of their proposals in 2004 that they claim the league cherry-picked, and then went on to demand more. (More obviously being the salary cap.)
Are they wrong? No.
And why won’t the owners put another offer on the table?
The league is still stinging from a system that sees owners get just 43 per cent of hockey related revenue. And they feel a need to level the economic playing field .
Are they wrong? No.
Someone familiar with the negotiations explains the dilemma of putting another offer out there, “You just don’t make an offer for the heck if it. One would first have to conclude that it would be productive. There is at least one school of thought that if you keep making offers and get no response, it actually encourages the other party to sit tight and do nothing.”
But hey, let’s take a little timeout here to acknowledge that both sides really should be a little embarrassed by what has gone on.
-The owners for the signing spree that went on this summer under the banner of “business as usual.”
-The players for trying to convince everyone that they really lost the last lockout war, as average contracts went from $1.3 million to $2.2 million, and free agency dropped to 27 years of age.
So how can these talks really be kick-started?
Yup, back to that word “Compromise.” As we have been told constantly since mid-August, if the big issues can get resolved this deal can be done quickly. As a refresher, those core economic issues are:
–Percentage of Revenue
–Length of Contracts
–Entry Level Contracts
–Age of Free Agency
If one of the two parties wants to win all six of these issues, we are in for a long, long lockout. If those involved can check their egos at the door, and understand that partnership means working together for the common good of the business, then we can have hockey back in four weeks.
To say that someone has to give in order to get may be true, but honestly, both have to give in order to get.
That my friends, is compromise.