Friday, November 21st, 2014

A Deal


Hurrah, I guess. Like most fans, I’m still trying to spit the taste of disgust out of my mouth. The only good news to come from the fiasco is the league decision to finally quit hitting itself over the head with a hamnmer. Otherwise?

1) The new CBA – whatever the provisions turn out to be – will be bad for the fans and the game. None of the league problems have been solved.

2) The season to come will be a joke, and if history is a guide, a not particularly funny joke for the Vancouver Canucks and other Western teams. The compressed schedule will find them flying frantically around North America while only the Eastern Champion might play a game outside their time zone.

3) For the players, virtually every new provision in the CBA represents a concession of some sort. The owners “won” the dispute, in the sense that the players will get a lot less money than under the old CBA. Furthermore, the players lost several hundred million in salary and won the possibility of revenue losses in future seasons. Financially, they would have been better off saving the salary, caving to the owners without a lockout, and tugging on the forelock.

On the other hand, the Donald Fehr strategy turned out to be pretty effective. The players could not win this dispute, so Fehr made sure that Gary Bettman, the owners, and the league were losers too. While the strategy did smack of cutting off his nose to spite his face, he hopes he’s taught the league a lesson about their lockout strategy. In the end, the league wanted a deal a lot more than Donald Fehr wanted a deal.

The owners might not be quite so willing to take on the players next time. (Although I doubt it. These are the clowns running the worst managed sports league in history after all.)

4) Gary Bettman will probably survive in the short run despite the fact that he underestimated Don Fehr, miscalculated the player resolve and did great damage to the NHL brand. If he has also miscalculated the willingness of the fan to forgive and forget, he is in big trouble, but I think that is unlikely. Fans in the hockey markets will keep showing up and fans in the zombie markets hardly noticed the lockout anyway.

Still, what can the league do to placate the fans given they do not have a new NHL to trot out? Throw Bettman to the mob. We can only hope.

Hurrah. I guess.

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17 Responses to “A Deal”
  1. J in O says:


    You forgot Winnipeg (Central Time Zone) is in the league and the Eastern Conference. It’s okay. I almost forgot and wish that I had.

    But doesn’t a schedule where you only play teams within your conference help the western most teams since travel to the Eastern Conference is easier on the mid west teams?

  2. Tom says:

    But doesn’t a schedule where you only play teams within your conference help the western most teams since travel to the Eastern Conference is easier on the mid west teams?

    I did forget Winnipeg. They make me feel better. Anything to make it harder in the East is good. The lack of intra-conference game does have the effect of evening the playing field in the Western conference. The Eastern Western teams pay the largest price in terms of increased travel.

    • makfan says:

      Yes, but Vancouver still has to fly to MIN and SJ/ANA/LA still have to fly to DAL so it’s unequal at best. I am more worried about a big increase in 3-games-in-4-nights, which will lead to some less-than-stellar performances.
      Oh well.

  3. ColinM says:

    I was disappointed to see that there isn’t a larger gap in between the length of time a team can re-sign his own team versus a team can sign a new player.

    I would have expected that giving teams the option to sign the players they developed to longer term contracts would have provided teams with an incentive to develop their own players if they knew they could offer something the rest of the league once those players became UFAs.

    • Tom says:

      Was this a CBA objective for anyone? Why? I don’t think the league was even pretending the dispute was about competitive balance. I don’t remember anyone claiming that teams losing free agents was ever an issue.

      Either way, I think the result of this provision is more likely to be “sign and trades” of pending free agents rather than enticing free agents who want out of a city to stay. Most of the time when the stars want to leave Atlanta, Columbus, Nashville… it is to get a better chance to win rather than to get more money.

    • Roberto says:

      I think the extra year for the current team is there to allow teams to extend players in the final year of a contract with a raise in the current year, nothing more.

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