Well here I am...I have work at 8am tomorrow, so I should be sleeping right now since I have to get up at 6:45...but instead I look through twitter and Eklund's blog to see what the progress is on negotiations. You see, I haven't written a blog on this site in a very long time, and that's because there is nothing to talk about. The Flyers have not yet played a meaningful game this season, sure I could talk about Claude Giroux or Danny Briere getting injured (I don't know how either are doing, I haven't paid much attention since there are no Flyers games). I could talk about Hartnell's charity game (sounded cool, but I was still worried about regular hockey), I could even talk about Ilya Bryzgalov rubbing people the wrong way in Russia, but honestly does that last one shock anyone at all?
Alas, I have nothing real to talk about, and this is due to the fact that what we have here are two children bickering about issues that should be compromised and resolved quickly. Two children that have the best interests of their respective parties in mind, but are really costing each side a ton of money and fanfare by having these pointless little squabbles and using these ridiculous tactics. I of course, are referring to Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL, and Donald Fehr, the leader of the NHLPA.
Let us start by looking at the side of Gary Bettman and the NHL, now people are always quick to blame this lockout on Bettman, and no doubt he deserves a good part of the blame, but it's not all him. Yes, it was a terrible start for the NHL, as their first offer was terrible. Since that offer, the NHL has come to the table and tried to negotiate with the PA and has actually made quite a few concessions in the CBA and have come down considerably from their previous demands, essentially, the NHL is trying to compromise. The problem of course is that even though the compromise is there, the attitude is lousy, but frankly I can see why they may be a little angry, they are essentially negotiating with themselves.
Now we look to Donald Fehr, the head of the NHLPA, for those who don't know, Fehr led the MLBPA in the 94-95 MLB strike which baseball has thankfully recovered from (after a little help from our steroid infused friends Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds). Back when he was hired, many people had fears of another NHL lockout because of this fact, I at the time, excited to have hockey, and thinking they learned from the first lockout, thought nothing of it. Now we sit, we don't have a deal, we don't have hockey, and Donald Fehr is a huge reason for this. Fehr doesn't seem to be interested in negotiating at all, and this was even shown in the simple fact that he believes if they just sit and wait, the offers will get better. I'm sorry Mr. Fehr, but that's not negotiating, that's just frustrating to the other side. Yes the PA has made counters, and they have agreed to things they did not previously, such as a 10 year CBA, but we still have some issues to work out, and the Players need to do some serious negotiating and not use silly tactics like threatening to decertify or claim that the NHL tried to change the definition of Hockey Related Revenue....a week after you've had the offer.
Now here we sit, the clock ticking on our beloved hockey, we have until January 11th to work out a deal before there will be no hockey in 2013, and a few issues still loom.
1. Player contract limits: the NHL wants 6 for free agents, 7 for your own team. The NHLPA wants 8 years as a whole. A solution to this could just be for the NHL to compromise and say 7 for all, or maybe 7 and 8 for team, whatever the NHLPA likes better, this is negotiation and compromise...maybe they're doing this...I hope so
2. Variance: I don't think this is a problem as the NHL has reportedly raised variance from 10% to 30%, a huge jump from the 5 that was sitting there.
3. Pension: The league is apparently looking for protection from long term unknown liabilities, I'm not going to pretend I know a ton on this issue, so I'm just going to skip over it.
4. CBA Term: NHL wants 10 with an opt out at 8, NHLPA wants 10 with an opt out at 7....this one is just silly, seriously there's only a 1 year separation on the opt out year, of course I hate that it's there...just have a solid term.
5. Two player amnesty: The agreement is that two players can be bought out without cap penalty (rejoice Flyers fans!!!), the only problem is where the money will go, whether it goes to HRR or goes into "make whole", fancy financial rhetoric, should be solved pretty easily.
6. Second year cap: This is by far the biggest issue right now, we all know the cap will be around 70 million for this season, but it is going to drop next season, the NHL wants 60, the NHLPA wants 65....huge...but really stupid, the NHL probably just wants the PA to compromise on another issue if they back down on this one, but like I said...children.
Any of these issues seem worth cancelling a season over? no? I agree. These are things that can be settled with some negotiation and compromise, and as I go to sleep tonight, I can at least know that the NHL and PA plan to meet again at 10am today, Friday the 4th, one week remaining to save the season.
Negotiations have been stiff...progress has been made....most of the issues have been agreed upon, there is absolutely no reason at all that we should miss this season, there is absolutely no excuse for not having at least 48 games of hockey this season. This "negotiation" has gone on way too long, why? because there have been too many games, too many "tactics" too much PR game, just get the thing done already so we can watch the sport we love will you? The games continue, but the negotiation is there...progress is being made.
Players had been informed to be prepared to play hockey mid January, and there has been a mass exodus from foreign teams with players returning home, such as our own Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, and our good buddy Cool Bryz (should we start calling him Cosmonaut?). Both sides want a deal, both sides know how important it is to have a season, so stop playing games, stop threatening disinterest...just sit down and get this done, for those who followed the "fiscal cliff" in politics, this is very similar to that sham, but they stopped the worst from happening and hopefully we can too.
I firmly believe that we will have hockey...we will have hockey soon, there's word that the first game could be January 19th against the Penguins at home, if this is true, I will be there.
Good night. Good hockey.