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Hockey's milestone strike in 1992

It's always about the money. The big business of professional sports has meant frequent battles between players and owners for a piece of the multimillion-dollar pie. The 2004 hockey lockout was the first in a decade, but over the years sports labour disputes have plagued professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey — resulting in shortened seasons and furious fans.

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To hockey fans, the start of the 1992 playoff season seemed like a cruel April Fool's joke. The race for the Stanley Cup has been delayed due to a strike -- a dispute over salaries, free agency and players' rights to license their own images on trading cards. It's the first strike in the league's 75 years, marking a milestone in player-management relations. Ten days later it's over, and CBC Radio's Inside Track reports on the resolution. 
• The players' contract expired on Sept. 15, 1991, but the hockey season and union negotiations continued over the next six months.
• Owners and players agreed on pension contributions, limited free agency, extending the season length and boosting playoff bonuses. But they couldn't agree on other issues like salaries and licensing.
• On March 20, 1992, Bob Goodenow, executive director of the National Hockey League Players Association, set a strike deadline for March 30.

• After various proposals, counter-proposals and a strike extension, players walked out on April 1, 1992.
• One of the major sources of contention was licensing. The players' association had earned $11 million by allowing trading-card companies to use the players' images, and the owners wanted a share of that money. The length of the players' collective agreement and the owners' use of pension surpluses were also outstanding issues.

• After several days of negotiations, including a final marathon session, the impasse was resolved on April 10. Thirty games were postponed because of the strike.
• The players won the right to retain licensing revenues. According to Maclean's magazine, the owners objected to the players' use of those revenues to fund NHLPA operations. The NHLPA interpreted the owners' cash grab as an attempt to undermine its efforts.

• Goodenow had replaced Alan Eagleson as executive director of the NHLPA on Jan. 1, 1992. One of his first goals — and, in part, the point of the strike — was to establish the NHLPA as a bargaining force. "We got our message through loud and clear," Goodenow told Sports Illustrated when the strike was over. "We're here, and we're going to be ready to rock 'n' roll. We are not going to be lapdogs."

• The NHLPA was founded in June 1967, just before the league expanded from its original six teams to 12.
• The association, which was effectively a labour union, elected a president and representatives from each of the original six teams. Owners agreed to accept the union if it represented at least two-thirds of the league's players. The union agreed not to strike while an agreement was in place so long as management did not violate its terms.
Medium: Radio
Program: The Inside Track
Broadcast Date: April 11, 1992
Guest(s): David Cruise, Mike Gartner, Bob Goodenow, Doug Lidster, Jim Quinn, John Ziegler
Host: Mary Hynes
Duration: 8:36

Last updated: January 8, 2013

Page consulted on November 7, 2014

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