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In This Corner: Another lockout could ruin NHL

5 September 2012 By Alena Schwarz, Sports Editor No Comments
If sides can’t reach an agreement, league will suffer

With the Collective Bargaining Agreement inching closer to expiration on Sept. 15, it doesn’t look like the National Hockey League is anywhere near reaching a new agreement.

The league and owners and the National Hockey Players’ Association are currently at a stalemate after negotiations fell through last Friday.

The NHL became the first league in North America to endure a full-season lockout during the 2004-05 season when an agreement couldn’t be met. But for now, the two sides appear to be stuck on the topic of hockey-related revenue.

For the past couple seasons, the players have been receiving 57 percent of HRR. The NHLPA’s initial proposal stated that the players would be willing to take a cut and instead go down to only 51 percent of HRR. This proposed CBA would be in effect for three years and then during the fourth year, players would have the option of going back to collecting 57 percent HRR.

The players also added that the owners’ and league’s extra revenue should be spread around the league to revive the struggling teams.

The owners have proposed an that the players’ HRR cut would go down to 46 percent.

However, this is an improvement. Initially, the league had proposed that the players’ HRR would be cut down to 43 percent.

The problem with the current CBA negotiations is that the economic issues aren’t the only problems that need to be discussed. Executive Director of the NHLPA Donald Fehr suggested that the two parties work out the other issues first, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman shot down the idea, insisting that the economic issues needed to be solved.

It’s not like the other issues will be easy to solve. Players and owners have also been arguing over shortening the players’ contracts.

Since Bettman decided that he didn’t want to start negotiations until after the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the league and owners didn’t end up sending the NHLPA their first proposal until July.

With only two months remaining on the current CBA then, the talks have gone downhill from there.

Not only is no progress being made in the negotiations, but players are starting to have strained relations with the owners.

Recently, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin met with Washington media to discuss the progress of the CBA talks. In the interview, Ovechkin confirmed what many have speculated: that players would be willing to spend the year in Europe if the NHL and NHLPA can’t come to an agreement.

Ovechkin said that he would most likely end up in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League if negotiations weren’t made, but that he’d rather stay in Washington.

As for the owners wanting to shorten players’ contracts, Ovechkin had an opinion on that, too. He told the Washington Times that it essentially made no sense for the owners to be complaining about the long contracts when they’re the ones who are still agreeing to sign them.

It appeared that, according to Ovechkin, the players are getting so disgruntled about this whole process that some might be willing to leave the league for good after this season if nothing is agreed on.

Social media has played a huge role in these negotiations as the individual players and the NHLPA have taken to Twitter to voice their complaints about the CBA talks and give fans a more one-sided view on how they’re going.

Players like Scottie Upshall of the Florida Panthers and Ryane Clowe of the San Jose Sharks have been tweeting like crazy about the issues.

Clowe tweeted on Aug. 24, “Players want to play hockey this year but also want a fair deal. Since last lockout NHL revenues have rose over 1 billion, commissioners salary has more than doubled but they demand players compensation be lowered by 24%. Fair?? #theplayers.”

The NHLPA’s Twitter feed has also been posting articles updating fans on the status of negotiations and with a slightly biased view on how the owners are treating the players.

With the fans starting to join the players in ganging up against the owners, it would be smart if Bettman and the rest of the NHL would loosen its grip and give a little more to the players.

The league is just now recovering from the last lockout and will not be able to handle another lost season.

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