Lockouts in the NHL have become a fact of life | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaLockouts in the NHL have become a fact of life

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 | 07:59 PM

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Daniel Briere skated in 2004 with Bern in Switzerland. Will NHL players be soon contemplating European adventures? (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press) Daniel Briere skated in 2004 with Bern in Switzerland. Will NHL players be soon contemplating European adventures? (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

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We opined last week to prepare for a lockout that will linger for months, not weeks, because there was no reason to be optimistic that the 2012-13 NHL season will begin on time. Nothing changed to alter that view this week. There is no common ground between the sides at this point.

The NHL and NHLPA have buried yet another week of negotiations with zero movement toward a new collective agreement.

We opined last week to prepare for a lockout that will linger for months, not weeks, because there was no reason to be optimistic that the 2012-13 NHL season will begin on time. Nothing changed to alter that view this week. There is no common ground between the sides at this point.

The owners simply want to make more money. The players feel they surrendered enough on several fronts last time, when the end result was the cancellation of the 2004-05 season by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. They refuse to relinquish any more on the key issues to the owners.

There are 23 days until the current CBA expires on Sept. 15, and 39 days until the scheduled start to the season. Even though, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr remarked there still is time to get a deal done, a third NHL lockout in 18 years appears inevitable.

Hockey fans I have run into this summer don't seem bothered about another lockout looming. They want a prediction on how long the lockout will last, but other than that, the attitude appears to be more like, "call me when it's over."

Of course, you can tell us differently in the comment section underneath, but I don't get a sense there is anger out there about part of another NHL season being lost again due to a squabble between the owners and players.

Maybe, we have become jaded about sports labour negotiations. Fans always seem to return to the NHL, NBA or NFL after seasons have been interrupted because of a lockout or strike.

The last time there was outrage was when major league baseball players went on strike in 1994 and the rest of the season eventually was cancelled. Any fan of the Montreal Expos can tell you how much that summer hurt.

This time around there haven't been any heated words between the NHL owners and players, or Fehr and Bettman. Just the odd jab, no knockout blows.

What has been even more bizarre has been that some players continue to participate in online chats and make appearances on behalf of teams. Some owners continue to spend huge amounts of dough on long-term contracts.

The Minnesota Wild locked up two prized free agents in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to close to $100-million US contracts. The Nashville Predators matched the Philadelphia Flyers $110-million, 14-year offer sheet to Shea Weber. The Flyers also recently signed Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds to six-year extensions, and the Edmonton Oilers followed this week with a seven-year, $42-million extension to Taylor Hall.

So are the owners and Bettman on the same page? Maybe we should ask Bettman about his thoughts on these contracts when the talks resume in New York.

The players, on the other hand, seem to be united. Fehr will hunker down with more players at a regional meeting in Toronto - at the Ritz Carlton, no less - on Friday.

There will be an update on the talks and probably some discussion on whether it will be worthwhile for players to look for temporary employment in Europe. There is interest, and many players like Joe Thornton and Rick Nash enjoyed the experience in 2004-05.

There was a report this week that the Swedish Elitserien will only permit contacts for the entire season, but there still will be plenty of places for NHLPA members to find work. The ones currently under contract just have to wait until Sept. 15 before they sign in Europe.

Something that is inevitable. 

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