Life really is tough being a Jets fan.
Another year of no NHL hockey in Winnipeg is actually in the works.
When I first read (last Thursday afternoon) something on the Internet telling me that there is a very good chance that the NHL is going to lock out its players, potentially cancelling another hockey season, I thought I was reading something dated August 2004.
With all the Olympic coverage going on, who has time to think about hockey?
Courtesy of everyone’s favourite NHL top guy, Mr. Gary Bettman.
Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, appears to be headed towards completing the worst kind of hat trick ever witnessed in the history of the greatest game on earth.
In Bettman’s tenure as the league commissioner, he is looking at the third lockout. This one would begin on Sept. 15.
Last Thursday, Bettman indicated during a bargaining session that the players of the league will be locked out if there isn’t a new CBA in place when the current deal expires on Sept. 15.
Some league sources are saying there isn’t a lot of optimism for a new deal.
According to various reports circulating the web, the NHL is back to playing hardball. The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) designed with NHL owners in 2005 included a 24 per cent rollback on existing contracts and a salary cap. According to the league, this is no longer good enough.
The salary cap for this year is scheduled to be $70.2 million.
The current agreement succeeded in levelling the playing field, but the financial gulf between the league’s big market teams and the small market teams has widened. This was because the NHL teams shared less than 6 per cent of revenue (NFL clubs by contrast share more than 60 per cent).
Says one league source: “This is not a players’ issue anymore. This is a battle between the owners and it’s time for them to settle it once and for all between themselves.
Bettman said last Thursday that the “fundamental economics” are more of a key element to the negotiations than revenue sharing.
“The fundamental proposal, our initial proposal, relates to the fact that we need to be paying out less in player costs,” he said.
As seen in all kinds of comments posted recently on Twitter, including one by Maples Leafs’ forward Joffrey Lupul, commissioner Bettman seems to be pointing at yet another NHL strike.
It will be the third of his tenure in his current position. Under Mr. Bettman, the NHL has seen some rapid growth of league revenues. From $400 million when he was hired, to over $3.0 billion in 2010-11.
He also oversaw the expansion to the NHL’s footprint across the USA, with six new teams added during his ten, bringing the NHL total to 30.
However, Mr. Bettman’s tenure in the league has also been controversial. He has often been criticized for attempting to Americanize the game and expanding the league into non-traditional markets such as the American south, at the expense of more traditional markets in Canada and the northern USA.
Mr. Bettman has also been the central figure behind two labour stoppages, including the 2004-05 lockout that saw the entire season cancelled.
The first of which was back in 1994-95.
That lockout lasted 104 days.
The season was shortened from 84 games to 48 games. The key issue was the desire to aid small market teams.
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