So… great development on Tuesday, as the owners of the NHL's 30 teams (read: Gary Bettman) put a deal on the table offering a 50/50 split of revenues and no initial salary rollback for the players. So the bloated salaries of many of the league's players can stay in place.
Also included, of course, are some free agency rules and stipulations, some stuff like contract lengths and a few other issues that were somewhat contentious, yes, but this deal addresses at least a couple of the core concepts that the players had been seeking in this so-called "negotiation" process.
This deal also comes with the understanding that it needs to be resolved quickly, in order to ensure that the NHL can execute its proposed plan of an 82-game season, slightly compressed to include an extra game every five weeks, and a postseason that would be done by the end of June.
So… your move, Players Association.
Now, before we all go off rejoicing and praising the league about this terrific move they have made and concessions they have made for the sake of the game... let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Yes, the NHL made the first move toward a solution.
Lest we forget, the NHL also made the first move toward the problem. The players didn't strike... the owners locked them out.
Does that make the players the good guys? Oh, hell, no.
I've said it before... there are no good guys here.
Some have been quick to dismiss the NHL's move as a public relations ploy to force the union's hand.
They are 100% right. The key word here is "ploy."
People in the public relations field are often (unfairly) lumped in with the same people who are dismissed as "spin doctors" and "flacks."
However, "public relations" and "spin" are not interchangeable. Public relations is about connection between a company/brand/entity and the public, in a manner that helps open a dialogue between said entity and the public.
The NHL is not connecting with its fans here. Simply put, it is forcing the issue with the NHLPA, via the media. The only "connection" the league is working toward here is its connection to the revenue.
Revenue that we, the fans, provide.
Hockey fans aren't stupid. We've heard all this before.
So should anyone have been surprised that the NHLPA returned serve with, "Well, we'll have a teleconference, and we'll have a counter proposal with 24-48 hours"?
So, what happens as the NHLPA lays out its counter-proposal today?
Hard to say. You can bet the players aren't crazy about feeling that the league is trying to force their hand in order to get "their deal."
50/50, though? No immediate salary rollback? That's a pretty damn good deal.
We have to expect some pushback today. However, considering that the league made a sizable jump toward the middle in this proposal... maybe... just maybe... we might hear something negotiable today, and we the fans can enjoy the league's vision of an 82-game season, the Winter Classic in Michigan, All Star Weekend in Columbus and a slightly-delayed Playoffs.
Or, maybe it's just a vision.
I don't expect the solution today. But there is time to make this happen.
Hopefully it does.
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10/16/2012: Fehr and Loathing... Mostly Loathing
9/16/2012: Box Full Of Letters, Part IV: The NHL and NHLPA... (and if you like, you can mail the Jumble to the NHL and/or the NHLPA, too!)9/15/2012: Box Full Of Letters (Postcard Edition), Part I: The Columbus Blue Jackets
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