Negotiations are fluid. There are ebbs and flows. There are hard stops and steady rolls.
Every negotiation of a large-scale reaches a point of no return. That “point” in the NHL vs. NHLPA CBA negotiations is the season cancellation. The rumors, from the pundits and others, is that Gary Bettman is under intense pressure from the owners (those with power) and he has been told that losing the season is not an option. That form of external pressure reduces the NHL’s leverage and, inversely, increases that of the Player’s Association.
There are two ways the NHLPA can now approach this. My way and what I believe will be their way.
My way would be to press hardest now. Give their 1a best offer (with slight wiggle room) to the owners and if the owners do not accept, file for decertification. The loss of antitrust protection and the owners’ exposure gives the players the greatest leverage. The owners, through Gary Bettman, have negotiated themselves into a corner. The owners did not have the stomach for the ultimate consequences when they started this and bluffed throughout. The bluff is called.
Use that maximum leverage in ongoing negotiations to squeeze the NHL. Show strength, unity and get the best deal. The players must be ready to lose the season for the greater and long-term good.
My way is that any way that causes the players to get a poor deal will have made all of this for nothing and my way does not accept that as an option.
My way will be very unpopular with many of you and many fans in general. My way is not based on the selfish desire for hockey to return. It is based on the players getting what must be rightfully theirs because they have been, from day one, in the right.
I don’t believe the NHLPA will choose my way. I do believe, perhaps arrogantly so, that Donald Fehr may agree with me but the players will likely not use the leverage handed to them. I believe they will negotiate, compromise in areas they should not and, at the end of all this, we will get a CBA with the players receiving even less in Hockey Related Revenue, capped contract terms that gives the owners the best of all worlds (a salary cap and protection against themselves to avoid long-term contracts), a lower salary cap next season and an escrow / make whole provision that will be so diluted, it will not have been worth the fight.
My way vs. what I believe will be their way.
Either way, I will see you at game one as we watch the banner raised to the rafters.
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