Saturday, June 25, 2005

Many Players Accepting Defeat In CBA Negotiations

There are about 700 players in the NHL and about 700 different opinions of the lockout and the CBA negotiations. I have written before that there are players afraid the lockout is soon ending because it looks like they lost a year only to wind up accepting a Gary Bettman's dream CBA (salary cap, linked to payrolls, 24% rollback in salarties etc.). Of course thats not the only position that some players hold. Many players just love hockey and want to play. They were willing to play in other leagues last year for less money then they ever could have expected to receive in ther NHL. If necessary, they are willing to do it again, but they would much rather have the NHL return.

This opinion is summed up in a quote by Jay McKee of the Buffalo Sabres:

It's easy to be the general after the war, and you can always look back and say, 'What if?' or 'Maybe, we should've. I'll stand behind our executive committee 100 per cent, whether we get the best deal in the world or a deal we're shaking our heads at. I just want to get back out there.

There are owners who hear things like this and get very exicited. Now, it should be possible to set up a system that keeps even more money in their pockets and allows them to get these players cheap. This was what they always wanted and now it looks possible. As a result, the owners are likely to get a CBA very favorable to their causes (getting even richer).

In this game, its Bob Goodenow and the NHLPA executive committee's job to save the players from those among them who are willing to play next year in the NHL regardless of how unfavorable the CBA turns out to be. Their job is to make sure the players get their fair share. In some cases they may want to leave loopholes that allow them significantly more money then is expected by owners.

In the end, as a fan, I don't care who gets what money. I just wish they would shut the hell up about it. What I do care about is the system set up in the NHL. I don't care who makes money in it. I only care that we get to see the highest level of hockey possible. In fact here is what I want from my pro hockey league. I am very concerned that the new NHL will not have all the best players in the world. I think several of them (possibly starting with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin) will stay in Europe where they can make more than they can under the entry level restrictions the NHL will put forth and where they can live closer to their families. I am also very concerned that there will be very little continuity in this league from year to year. Large numbers of players will change teams via free agency and othert mechanisms. It will no longer be able to get attached to that hard working second line winger on your club because he wont be there next year. Under a worst case scenario, player movement could get as high as in the AHL. I don't think the new NHL will be as good for fans as the previous one. I hope to be proven wrong (but i doubt I will). The owners will get what they want in this new CBA. Sometimes it can be a curse to get exactly what you want, if things don't work out properly, there is nobody to blame but yourselves (yet based on their recent history there will be no shortage of people for the owners to blame if that happens - and no shortage of fans to believe those owners).

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