by PuckStopsHere on 09/16/12 at 02:27 PM ET
The NHL is locked out. This is the third time this has happened under Gary Bettman. It is the third time he had a chance to lockout out the players because their bargaining agreement ended and he has taken every opportunity. It should be clear that this was the plan all along. It should be clear that Bettman "negotiates" by locking out players and taking the best offer he can force the players into with a lockout. It should be clear that as soon as the next CBA ends there will be another lockout and another lockout and this will repeat ad infinitum as long as the current system stays in place. Bettman and his ilk will take as significant a chunk from the players as they can in each lockout and regardless of how big their win was last time they will demand another big chunk with their next lockout.
I say that this should be clear because it hasn't been. During the Stanley Cup finals I wrote a post entitled the 10,000 pound gorilla in the room warning of the impending lockout and how it was taking away from the enjoyment of the finals. Commenters were quick to tell me that there wouldn't be a lockout. They were wrong. They were wrong for a significant reason. They assumed that Gary Bettman and his ilk who are in charge of the NHL care about the good of hockey. Clearly that isn't true. Their only desire is to make as much money as they can and they have found this lockout plan is the way to maximize profits. They are correct if fans come back at the end of the lockouts and history shows they do.
While I have strong feelings about the way the NHL should be and what I would like in a CBA there is nothing I want more than no more lockouts. The most obvious way to get to that point is to have Gary Bettman and his ilk defeated so badly in this CBA negotiation that they are no longer in the picture and cannot respond with a lockout at every possible opportunity. That would require a long lockout right now and is highly unlikely.
A much more plausible scenario is that a "poison pill" is added to the end of this CBA. The CBA automatically renews unless a new CBA is agreed upon or if the owners chose a one season (or longer) option to end it where the player's share of revenue is significantly larger than it had been during the CBA. The idea is the owners would never activate this clause so the CBA would never expire and any future negotiations would occur more cordially without a lockout.
The final possible way to reduce the number of future lockouts is to agree to as long as possible a term for this CBA. This doesn't solve the problem. It just delays future lockouts.
From a fan's perspective this is the issue that should trump all others. Future lockouts will occur unless something is changed. That something must be changed. There are many other issues that an intelligent fan should have opinions about (and some of these issues are unlikely to be discussed by either side - i.e. end shootouts and points for losing games) but unless the promise of future lockouts exist they are moot and temporary because they can be negotiated away next time.
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