Saturday, May 28, 2005

Skepticism on central bargaining

There is a widespread belief that it is inevitable that a new NHL CBA will be signed soon. Bob McKenzie's latest article that expresses this sentiment is here. This opinion is often frequently expressed in the blogosphere, for example here.

It's not clear what is actually happening in the negotiations. It is clear that both sides have spent hours negotiating. It is clear that they are not openly calling each other names (or using the media for this). That is a positive. That's a pretty tiny positive. Its not clear that any serious agreement has been made. Both sides are trying to understand the NHL's revenue picture. They are pouring through the Levitt report and other similar documents trying to understand the complicated accounting systems that likely vary significantly from team to team. If some agreement is reached on this, then it might bew possible to negotiate a settlement. But it is not clear that any kind of settlement is close. Its not clear that both sides even have the same philosophy for what should be in a settlement. They are trying to agree on the current financial state of the league and that is a long complicated process.

Why is there so much positive stuff written if this is all that is going on? The NHL wants and needs positive press. They need the impression that it is inevitable that hockey will return next year. They want to maintain as much sponsorship and season ticket money as possible for next year - and to do this they need to make people think there will be a next year. The press members who are 'in bed" with the NHL like Bob McKenzie report it and in the vacuum of information, it gets repeated and believed by more and more people. Afterall, this is what they want to hear. It is important to the NHL that it is believed. It costs them money if it isn't.

ESPN is an example of the NHL losing money due to the lack of a CBA. They need to convince as many people as possible that a new CBA is inevitable to stem this tide.

Keep up the good work with your blog! I am booking marking it now so I can come back...


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