The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/22/11 at 07:42 PM ET
In a slate of hockey predictions for 2012, SI’s Adrian Dater suggests that the NHLPA is girding itself for a third owners’ lockout over the course of seventeen years and the second lockout in eight years because, well, the NHL believes that if the NFL and NBA can get away with a “work stoppage” without alienating its fans, so can a sports league for whom, “Okay, fans, we’re not going to let you or the players who want to play in the building into rinks for a while because we like brinksmanship—but you’re gonna be totally cool with that and come back again, right?” has become something of a familiar refrain:
There will be a work stoppage. I know, I know. How can this happen again? Is everybody in the NHL insane? After what happened in 2004-05, how can there even be the most remote possibility that another lockout/strike will occur at the start of next season?
It could, and according to more than a few wired-in hockey people I’ve talked to in recent days, it likely will happen again in 2012. “Better than a 51-percent chance,” is how one high-profile agent described it to me. NHL Players Association boss Donald Fehr met with agents last week, and the mood coming out of the meeting, at least to some who were there, was pessimism that a shutdown can be avoided after the current collective bargaining agreement with the NHL expires on September 15.
Why? It would take a lot more time and space to get into here, but it probably has something to do with NBA owners getting their players to agree to a 50-50 split of revenue. Currently, NHL players are getting 57 percent, so it’s not hard to imagine why there could be trouble at hockey’s bargaining table. The top two issues for NHL owners in 2004 were getting a salary cap and getting rid of NHLPA boss Bob Goodenow. They succeeded at both. Next time it will be purely a fight over slices of the revenue pie. (Guilty admission: a tiny part of me is highly intrigued by what a showdown between Fehr and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman would look like.) The good news: nobody I’ve talked to believes the full 2012-13 season will be lost. “Think December or so for a settlement,” is how another top agent put it.
Note to split big-market owners who aren’t happy subsidizing their weaker sisters via revenue-sharing and smaller-market teams’ owners who aren’t happy with Bettman’s high cap “floor” and narrow payroll range of $15 million between the “floor” and “ceiling” of a salary cap based upon the average of league-wide revenues—which means that in Bettman’s dream CBA, half of the league’s teams essentially have to spend a percentage of their revenues on salaries despite the fact that they’re making under the league’s average amount of take-in money:
THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. YOU’VE DICKED AROUND WITH THE PLAYERS AND LIED TO FANS ABOUT ‘INFLATIONARY SPIRALS” YIELDING HIGHER TICKET PRCIES (it’s supply and demand, stupids) AND ENSURED EVERYONE WHO LISTENED THAT, THIS TIME, YOUR CBA WAS IDIOT PROOF AND WOULD SAVE GM’S, TEAMS AND FANS FROM THEMSELVES WHILE IMPROVING COMPETITIVE PLAY AND ENSURING THAT ALL FRANCHISES WOULD BE STABLE “IN THEIR CURRENT MARKETS,” AND EVERY TIME YOU’VE BEEN PROVED LIARS, PLAIN AND SIMPLE. WE FANS WILL NOT SIMPLY SIT ON OUR HANDS AND PATIENTLY WAIT WHILE YOU SCREW WITH US FOR A THIRD TIME FOR THE SAKE OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS SPORTS LABOR BUSINESS AS USUAL.
IF YOU LOCK OUT THE PLAYERS AGAIN, THOSE OF US WHO ARE NOT PLAGUED WITH A COMPLETE AND TOTAL ABSENCE OF LONG-TERM MEMORY WILL LEAVE AND WILL LEAVE FOREVER, TAKING OUR MONEY WITH US, IN A SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT LANDSCAPE WHICH GIVES US INNUMERABLE OPTIONS WITH WHICH TO SPEND OUR DISCRETIONARY INCOME WHEN WE GET FED UP WITH A SPORTS LEAGUE THAT DOES NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS THAN LIE TO THE PLAYERS WHO FILL ITS ARENAS AND THE FANS WHO BOTH PAY THE PLAYERS,’ OWNER’ AND COMMISSIONER’S SALARIES.
So don’t screw this up again, Mr. Bettman, Mr Daily, Mr. Chairman of the Board of Governors Jeremy Jacobs, you 30 owners, Mr. Donald Fehr and the NHLPA…Don’t dare, for an instant, to think that you can take fans for granted when you’ve locked US out twice already.
In this case, an “all caps rage” from a usually reasonably-minded blogger is the least of your concerns, and you’d better f***ing believe that if you screw with us and tell the media to insist that your bulls*** and lies are earnest pleas for sports sanity, we’re going to shove your insincerity up your asses.
And if you’re going to ask us to side with the billionaires who are the “lords o the boards” as opposed to the millionaires who, yes, earn a disproportionate salary to the rest of society, but at least work for a living…It’s an easy choice as to which “side” merits sympathy from the paying fan.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.