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11-29-2004, 04:05 AM
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But the thing is we don't really know how the owners feel about the current situation. Obviously, they weren't happy with the old system, and someone would have to be delusional to believe that these businesses were profitable and that they're just doing this for kicks. But we do not know how the lockout is affecting the owners' bottom line. Because of the gag order, all we know is what Bettman and Daly tell us. They say that the owners will lose less money by keeping the doors shut and the lights off, but I doubt that applies league-wide. And if 15 owners see a proposal from the NHLPA and think, "If we tweak this a bit, we can field a good team and turn a profit," what happens then? The owners are tougher to gauge because we aren't privy to the dissention within their ranks like we are with the players. A strong proposal from the PA could but some serious heat on Bettman, even with his 8 votes. Of course, I may be completely off as well. We just can't tell with this gag order.
But as I say all the time, that is a two way street you're going down. The same thing could easily be said about the players union {or any union in general for that matter}. A lot of the guys making lesser money are hinting they don't totally agree with the union {and in the past many of the league's more colorful personalities have done the same} but they are quickly silenced. The whole point of a union is to get everyone on the same page because there is greater strength in numbers. On the flip side of your comments there are the same percentage of players who would be more willing to listen to a cap idea.

The issue isn't whether the league wants or needs a cap. The issue is whether the league has made good faith attempts to reach an agreement. They can argue that they need the hard cap to survive, and they may convince the NLRB of that, but that won't change the fact that they have made one serious proposal. Even if the league is genuinely convinced that it will not survive without the $31 million hard cap, negotiating in good faith would hold that the league back off on other issues in order to facilitate an agreement. So far, they've put forth one proposal and shown no indication that they will back off on anything.
Because in reality the only issue that both sides really cant agree on is the cap issue. Everything else is a back issue. The main issue and the main point of contention is the idea of a salary cap. If you notice neither side is talking about junior eligibility or waivers or any other issue, they are talking about the cap. If the players aren't willing to have one and the owners aren't willing to give in on that point, what exactly do you want them to negotiate?

Bettman seems to be banking on his stance of the cap being necessary for survival against the players' stance of not accepting any cap being enough for the impasse. The sides might seem diametrically opposed, but the NLRB is still going to want to see meaningful attempts to bridge the gaps before declaring the impasse. And thus far, the league has been transparent in its unwillingness to negotiate.
Again what do you want them to negotiate? If I ask you to shoot yourself and you say no, what are we going to haggle over? I can't have you put half a bullet in your head. The other issues really arent that far off because frankly neither side was unhappy with them. The whole issue is about one point: a CAP. If you take that one issue out of play the rest of the discussion becomes a mute point because hockey is being played right now.

The players will propose a revenue sharing system but that idea doesn't even hold water because frankly hockey does not generate enough. So essentially it goes back to my bullet in the head analogy. You refuse to shoot yourself, i say i won't agree to any deal that doesn't include it and you counter by saying "let's go eat ice-cream". That isn't a negotiation, that is a positioning tactic. The players know that at the end of the day there are a lot of bubble guys and average NHL'ers who need the money a lot more than the top 15% of the players. They also know that if the case does go to the NLRB that the league will say "both sides are happy with all the main points of the last labor agreement but can't agree on a salary cap". That is true and the players admit that when they dont bring up other issues {Which would be a smarter idea if they want to help their case}. It's all about positioning and right now the league {right, wrong or indifferent} has the advantage.

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