Hockey impasse drags on
Early this month I blogged there might be some faint light glimmering in the dark tunnel of this fall’s National Hockey League’s lock-out.
But no, not so fast!
While more talks did take place, they didn’t seem to produce meaningful progress.
Now media reports in Canada say the deadlock is so intractable that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is suggesting a two-week moratorium on collective bargaining negotiations.
Will the whole season go down the tubes? This from the Canadian Press:
Asked about that possibility on Thursday morning, deputy commissioner Bill Daly replied: “I hope not.”
“But I’m more discouraged now than I have been at any point in the process,” Daly added.
The Toronto Star reports that NHL Player’s Association special counsel Steve Fehr thought the right deal could be wrapped up fairly quickly. But they aren’t there yet.
Fehr acknowledged that the union and league remained split on three major issues: the division of money, player contract rights and who pays for the damage caused by the lockout.
By Friday the Globe and Mail reported a prevailing mood of anger under a headline of “Vitriol overtakes hope“.
I asked a friend about how this is playing in her house. “Your husband loves hockey, right? How’s he taking this lost season so far?”
Her reply? “Well, he’s so mad at all of them that he just doesn’t care anymore.”
Then she echoed something I’ve heard from many: “Who cares about the millionaire owners and players? I feel sorry for all the little guys – like all the restaurants, all the wait help trying to put themselves through school when business is dead without those game nights.”
I know it’s only hockey. Hopefully just one season.
But positions that sound like ‘total victory or scorched earth!’ bring another saying to mind: ‘be careful what you wish for.’
Tags: canada, hockey, NHL, NHL contract dispute, sport
Another conflict in which it seems neither side has a firm grip on reality. NHL fans will eventually tire of this incessant wrangling over millions, a struggle that most can’t relate to – until they try to buy tickets to a game. Fans of all professional sports are learning that the price to value equation does not favor the “major league” version of their sport. There will always be hockey; if you want to be entertained for a sane amount of money seek out a game whose participants dream of the NHL, instead of taking it for granted.
I don’t know who is dumber here, the owners or the players.
What you have here is people who are in the top 2% arguing over money in an effort to move up into the top 1% or even into the top 0.5%.
I am not a hockey fan per se, but I do know that hockey goes on in the schools, and communities on both sides of the border. That is where a lot of the time and energy is being invested: parents and students in school teams, and communities in their minor league and semi pro teams. I will miss the Winter Classic game outdoors on New Years Day. They have already cancelled that.
On Saturday nights – traditional hockey night on CBC television at this time of year – the network is replaying Stanley Cup games from years past, with games to be shown chosen by viewers. For example, last night they showed a game from the Stanley Cup finals in 1978 between Montreal and Boston. It was very entertaining, especially if, like me, you can’t remember back that far as to who actually won the game originally.
I say forget the current NHL, let’s revel in the best games from the past.
Lucy’s post hits the nail on the head. The thing the NHL should fear most is not angry fans. It’s fans who stop caring. Anger dissipates with time. Apathy usually doesn’t. MLB found this out after they killed the 1994 World Series.