To say that Gary Bettman and his staff has an up hill climb would be an understatement. In regards to the latest proposal, it has been referred to as “insulting” and “a joke” from players and the NHLPA. Obviously this is a starting point, but currently, right now, things do not look or sound good.
Sidney Crosby made it clear that he wants to be part of the process as he has become one of the faces of Hockey. I can bet if he had his way, there would be no stoppages or late starting seasons. He knows how important it is for this sport to start on time, as it struggles with a bit of an identity problem when you compare it to the other big sports in North America.
Hockey is not a niche sport, but it does not have the following or the revenue of the NFL, MLB, or even NBA. And because of that, it can ill afford to not start on time. The problems are not just between the players and the owners though, their is also issues amongst the owners themselves this time around. Ant that could be the real problem moving forward.
Their are many issues that need to be sorted out, but one of the main issues is the fact that their are teams losing money, and the Salary Floor continues to rise. Just like in most leagues that use a salary cap, their is also a floor that makes teams spend a certain amount of money to help guarantee a chance for victory.
During the last CBA negotiation, the League was forced to cancel an entire season to fix it’s financial woes. When it came back, the Salary Floor was set at $21 million, it is now at $51 million. That is a significant increase although the NHL just signed a huge TV deal that will help the teams cover some of that cost. The problem is that their is just not enough in some cases. How do you fix that? It’s hard to go backwards, but I think the NHL is going to have to try. And with the new Players Association Boss Don Fehr, he will have None of that “going backwards” stuff.
That is why real hockey fans, the ones that really follow the sport knows what kind of battle this could be and how devastating it could be to the sport. I truly hope this goes much smoother than some anticipate, but I would not expect that to be the case.