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.