Saturday, May 21, 2005

Drop Dead Date?

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is reporting that NHL is considering a drop dead date for the 2005/06 season believed to be June 15th. You can read the story here. In principle, I see why the NHL would like a deal with plenty of time to sell tickets and keep TV rights and sponsors happy, but it is ridiculous to think that if a deal was struck in August or October or even January of 2006, they won't want to have some kind of season.

This story may be merely Garrioch's opinion or it may be the NHL trying to put public pressure on the NHLPA (little exists right now - since they don't miss any paycheques for months). This kind of announcement would only serve to anger the NHLPA. Lately, negotiation has occurred for long hours. Both sides are reportedly pouring over revenue numbers trying to understand and define the complicated revenues and costs of the NHL - which vary (often significantly) from club to club. The basics of revenue and costs must be agreed upon before they can agree to any deal that includes either of them in its CBA. This is very complicated and will take a long time. This is progress - even if it is small progress. Announcing a drop dead date a month or less away does not help.

Should the NHL not play next year, the league may be dead. Can you imagine a business the size of the NHL shutting down for two complete years and coming back successfully? Has that ever happened? We may go through a period of no major pro hockey league - eventually one will fill the void, but it may take a generation for it to develop. Isn't that a sad possibility for hockey fans? Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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