“The sides are far apart and have different views of the world,” were Bettman’s words as he addressed the media today. We already knew that, but the fact that he says this in response to the NHLPA proposal indicates an unsettling truth: the lockout is far more probable today than it was yesterday.
As I reported yesterday, there were reasons to be optimistic about the proposal. Players were willing to reduce their share of hockey-related revenue temporarily to alleviate the problems that the owners complained about (especially when it came to financial problems for smaller market teams), and they provided a solution that would help stabilize the finances of the league as a whole through targeted sharing. They also did not push to dissolve the salary cap. As far as we’ve seen from both sides, the players gave in as fairly as they could to everything but contractual changes, and it seemed like this might be a ‘happy medium.’
Not so for the owners, according to Bettman. Chris Johnston reported that “Bettman made it clear the NHL fully understands the NHLPA’s proposal. The owners just don’t like too much about it.” According to Michael Grange, Bettman says that the NFL and NBA set the context for these negotiations. Chris Johnston quotes him as saying, “Players in other industries and other sports in the last year have recognized the importance and need to make adjustments.” Yet Donald Fehr pointed out the NHL’s “glaring omission” of the MLB contract as context, which he helped lead to a tranquility that has kept the league in operation since 1994. He went on to say that the players have indicated that “every sport has its own economics, they’re self contained–you have to negotiate within that context.” He then goes on to say that players believe their concessions address their specific context and that they understand that both sides do have different views. ”The process is to find an agreement you can both live with even if you come at it from differing perspectives,” Fehr summarized.
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