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Locked out: Helpless fans watch days tick away

With zero signs of real progress in NHL CBA talks, there's not much to do but implore these supposedly intelligent businessmen and lawyers to get in a room, drop the attitude, and negotiate a reasonable deal...For everyone's good.

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

If the NBA can figure it out, so should the NHL.

Seriously, last year basketball had more issues and more complexities within those issues in terms of their salary cap. Eventually, with the threat of a complete season cancellation both sides came to their senses, bargained reasonably and negotiated a seemingly middle-ground decent deal for both sides.

Unfortunately, for us puck heads, our lawyers are a lot more stubborn. The threat of a season lost doesn't scare the most important people in hockey- been there, done that.

Make no mistake, the owners are dug in. They pull the strings on the Gary Bettman mannequin. Though some owners wouldn't be happy to lose a season of revenue, if that is what it takes to break the union and get the players to accept even less of a percentage, well that's just all the more money for them to recoup in future years.

For the players, unity is a lot less up in the air. Some have gone to Europe, some will continue, but there aren't enough jobs and they don't pay as well as NHL deals. There's 700+ members of the union, which means 700+ different situations. Some players are wealthy, but many more are making below league average and rely on their paychecks to support their families. The majority of players can't and don't want to be locked out forever.

Which leads me to believe, despite the stubbornness of players' association leader Donald Fehr- the longer this lasts, the worse the eventual deal will be for the players. The owners cn continue to dig in. Hawkish owners have already kept all in-line with draconian fines for any owner that speaks out on the situation. Quite frankly the owners own the league, even if the players are the main attractions and the only reason they make money.

Cooler heads should prevail. It's easy to see some tenets of the player argument- owners should honor the contracts they have signed, especially all the big deals of this past summer. It's not in good faith to sign players for multi-year big dollar contracts and then months later change course and ask for a large percentage of it back.

At the same time, owners' costs are high and payroll if left unchecked could financially trouble the league more than it already does. Fehr's idea of removing the salary cap isn't just a step back, it's like dropping a bomb on the whole process.

So while NHL regular season games and days tick away, revenue suffers. And the fans suffer, especially from being helpless.

It's really just a waiting game to see when these supposedly intelligent group of men can set aside their personal feelings towards one another and reasonably compromise out a suitable agreement so they can go back to sharing a $3,300,000,000 pie. Doesn't sound that hard, but when it comes to hockey collective bargaining negotiations, it's never as simple as it should be.