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12-17-2012, 12:32 PM
Stanley Cup 2014
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: New York City
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Looking back, the NHL made a terrible strategic mistake back in July with an original offer that asked for players to accept 43 percent of hockey-related revenue, down from the 57 percent it had in the previous deal. I cannot tell you how many level-headed NHL players -- not militants but rather moderates -- have told me repeatedly how that first offer from the NHL in July felt like a punch to the head and galvanized the player membership in a way in which NHLPA executive director Don Fehr likely could have never managed on his own.

That offer set the tone for the level of mistrust that has plagued what should have been a simpler negotiation, the players knowing deep down all along that they'd be accepting a 50-50 split of revenues.

On the other side of things, Fehr is also showing his true colors of late. The longtime baseball union leader seems hard to pin down. It just seems like whenever the league moves on what Fehr deemed a critical issue -- such as funding the "make-whole" provision and then upping it to $300 million -- the NHLPA boss finds new demands to throw the league's way, the latest being his desire to cap escrow as part of the transition rules.

All of which just feeds into the long-held criticism from NHL owners that Fehr can't close a deal.

Let's be clear here: The players have done most of the giving in this negotiation. There's no way you can argue otherwise. But as I've long maintained, that had to be the understood context of this negotiation from Day 1. After labor deals in the NFL and NBA last year in which players backed up financially, it was clear NHL players were going to be subject to the same end result. It's an industry standard you can't escape.
Not having a 2012-13 season will irreparably damage the NHL industry.

And in a comment that I'm hearing more and more from people on the ownership side, I'm not sure the NHL returns with 30 teams on the other side of a lost season. Can the weaker markets truly survive this? That's damage both sides would feel.

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