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01-02-2013, 12:17 PM
LadyStanley's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Dowbiggin: Owners have only themselves to blame
What makes the worn-out drama so repellent for fans is that this farce was entirely preventable from the owners’ point of view. While NHL sources blame Donald Fehr, the player’s executive director, for stalling and equivocating the past six months, it was the owners themselves who drove players into the arms of Fehr’s classic labour perspective.

Few of the players who’d had one or two previous labour stoppage were up for another costly sacrifice this time. They’d given millions at the office. There was a deal to be made that would have placated these influential veterans and allowed a season to start on time in October. One that acknowledged the right of the NHLPA to exist as a very junior partner to the league.

Instead, the league’s hawks won out in the Board of Governors. Frustrated by Fehr’s laconic approach to talks, they delivered a scorched-earth proposal to the NHLPA membership in the summer. Having conceded significant rollbacks last time, the players were being publicly asked to bail out the NHL’s failed business plan again.

Asking for massive rollbacks in what Gary Bettman had bragged was a successful business took hubris of a rare sort. And after hubris comes nemesis.

Nothing Fehr had said or done in the previous 18 months could have worked better to push players into Fehr’s hard-line approach to negotiations. From the moment Bettman proposed a drop in players’ share of revenues from 57 per cent to 46 per cent with four-year maximum contracts, players united behind Fehr. And the league had the disastrous fight it spoiled for.

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