People are never going to forget this NHL work stoppage. Not the fans. Not the sponsors.
Not the league. Not the players, no matter if they are NHLers now or
being assigned their first Shakespeare play in Grade 10. And not the
Couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a former player. He said he'd heard the NHLPA wanted a short-term CBA because the union was worried a 10-year term would allow everyone to forget this disgraceful work stoppage.
The next day, I ran into two active players who believed the same thing. "People will forget," they said. "And it will give the owners licence to do the same thing in 10 years."
I told them then what I'm writing now. That's wrong. People are never going to forget this. Not the fans. Not the sponsors. Not the league. Not the players, no matter if they are NHLers now or being assigned their first Shakespeare play in Grade 10. And not the media.
We don't need any more days like Thursday. Whether you believe the NHL tried to screw the players or Donald Fehr manufactured a controversy to rally the group, all it did was increase the disgust everyone feels towards both parties.
If you believe Fehr's goal was to make owners realize that continuous lockouts would come with a severe price, he has achieved that. What is one more week going to prove?
It's OK for the NHL and NHLPA to feel passionately about their positions. There is nothing wrong about feeling strongly about something you believe in. But look where we are now.
Cap: League wants it to be $60 million next year, and Commissioner Bettman is trying keep it low to protect the floor from being too far from the ceiling. The players want $65 million for freer movement.
Contract length: League wants six years (other team's free agent) or seven (your own). Players want eight overall.
Pensions: Players are determined to get what was previously agreed to. And they should.
CBA length: Both accept 10 years. League wants opt-out after eight, as long as intention to do so is after Year 6. And the CBA ends June 30. Players want opt-out after seven, with the CBA ending September 15.
Variance: League has offered a 30 per cent difference per season, but also that no season in any multi-year deal can be more than 60 percent lower than the highest-salaried one.
Buyouts: There will be two compliance buyouts per team before next season, although both will count against the players' share of Hockey Related Revenue.
It can get worse
I know how this works. You have to get to a deadline before this gets done, and that deadline is at the end of next week. But what is either side really accomplishing by waiting another seven days? Is there something the two sides are so far apart on that this CBA shouldn't get done?
Sorry, but I just don't see it.
You could make a real good argument that it's already too late. Well, what's done is done. But look at where we are right now and imagine what the final deal is going to look like in approximately a week.
Is it going to be so much better than what it looks like now that it's going to be worth it? And, if this season actually gets cancelled, is whatever happens in six to 10 months actually worth it? Because, if you don't think the damage and hatred from the fans and sponsors and media won't get exponentially worse in the next seven days, you're wrong.
You want to fight each other? Fine. You want to argue passionately for your positions? Fine. Get in a room and do it.
This isn't a popular position, but there are good people on both sides who've given large chunks of their lives to the game and care passionately about it.
You've proven your point. Don't be remembered as the guys who've destroyed it. Because if you think this is bad now, wait one more week.
Elliotte FriedmanElliotte joined CBC in October 2003 and is a commentator with Hockey Night in Canada.
As part of his duties with Hockey Night in Canada, Friedman hosts Inside Hockey, a feature airing every Saturday during Scotiabank Hockey Tonight that tells the stories of the people and places that shape the game of hockey. Always committed to giving viewers the inside story, fans call follow him throughout the regular season and playoffs on Twitter.
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