Here’s the thing about the NHL’s new CBA proposal: the NHL would like fans to take it as a finality. They want fans to think they’ve indicated a willingness for it all to be over with a 100% fair proposal the players should just take and be done with. Language like this:
All three of these system proposals are designed to shift the current allocation of Players’ Share dollars away from “second contracts” and toward “third and subsequent contracts” to ensure what we believe to be a more equitable and effective allocation of Players’ Share dollars to more proven, established Players who are playing in the prime of their NHL careers. [NHL.com]
is meant to be persuasive. It’s meant to sound toothless and get fans on the NHL’s side, and it’ll probably work for a lot of them. But the thing about this proposal is, this is the starting point the NHL should have been presenting ages ago. This, right now, is where the genuine negotiations will start, because before both sides were refusing to move. Personally, I think the players were right to refuse before; the NHL’s first proposal in the summer was a clear shot across the bow, and caving would’ve meant more sacrifices than I think are really reasonable. But now, if the NHLPA doesn’t come back with something similar but more acceptable to them – so, you know, a reasonable next step in a negotiation – then I’ll start getting frustrated with them, too.
The NHL is, obviously, trying to spin this and control the conversation more after having it revealed that a GOP dynamo is working with them. That’s not really surprising (especially considering that something like 80% of team owners give heavily to the Republican party). But it’s important for fans to recognize that what we’re seeing right now is a negotiation, and that means both sides are going to snipe at each other, try to manipulate the perception of the other side and themselves, and try to claim as much moral high ground as they can. That doesn’t mean that neither side has a moral high ground; personally, being rabidly pro-labor, I generally think that the NHL could do with someone smacking them on the nose for the ridiculous stuff the owners have been pulling. But still, taking a step back and recognizing the smoke and mirrors inherent in the process goes a long way towards not being duped.
Hopefully, though, this is the beginning of the end.