No Winners in NHL Lockout.

The NHL and NHLPA have a tentative agreement in place on a new collective bargaining agreement, but the two sides have a lot of work ahead of them to repair the damage to the league brand.

This lockout was unnecessary, and lasted far too long. While undoubtedly most NHL fans will flock back, many were upset by the work stoppage. A number of them are disgruntled and will have to be wooed back.

While the new agreement is for ten years (with a mutual opt-out at year 8), ensuring a lengthy period of labor peace, most pundits greeted the news with a weary, “8 to 10 years before we go through this again”.

The league and its players not only have to heal their relationship with the fans, but also improve the labor relationship between each other.

Fans and pundits shouldn’t be expecting labor strife following every CBA. Sooner or later, it will take a serious toll upon the fan base.

It’s imperative for the owners and the players to work together over the next ten years in a true partnership for their mutual benefit, and avoid future contentious labor talks between them.

In the coming days, as details of the new CBA are revealed, some pundits and bloggers will pore over them to determine which side “won” the lockout.

That would be a waste of time. There are no winners from this pointless, stupid lockout. Only losers.

The team owners may have gotten its way over the main issues (50-50 split of HRR, a “make whole” option rather than honor existing contracts, salary variance, term limits on player contracts), but the league suffered damage to its brand. Even if it isn’t long-term, it wasn’t worth killing half a season.

The players came out of this with a far better deal than the league initially offered. Their arbitration rights were protected, there were no changes to existing free agent rules, plus they got a higher salary cap ceiling for 2013-14, amnesty buyouts and an improved pension plan. Nevertheless, they will continue to be vilified by some fans and pundits as selfish and greedy.

The fans spent over three months unable to follow their favorite professional hockey league, becoming more disillusioned and angry with the NHL. They feel their opinion counts for nothing and their support is taken for granted.

Those working class folks who rely on the NHL for work had to suffer through reduced wages or layoffs, bringing unnecessary strife and financial difficulties to their households.

No matter how much the league tried to make this new CBA “loophole-proof”, expect general managers and their capologists to find some to exploit, potentially setting the stage for more labor strife in eight to ten years.

Perhaps the NHL won’t suffer any significant long-term damage by this lockout. Maybe over the course of the new CBA, their revenue will continue to climb to all time highs, while the players continue to benefit from a rising salary cap and the efforts of GMs to find loopholes in the agreement.

If so, the owners and players cannot assume the fans will remain loyal through another lockout. This nonsense cannot continue, because if it does, the NHL will eventually suffer the consequences, which could prove irreparable.


  1. I doubt that Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr will be around when the option year comes around.

  2. There is no way to know how all sports will look in 7 years when all the cba’s expire or how economics look for regular people.
    I would expect labour problems in sports will be big for all next time around as i think the economy will not improve much and these huge salaries will have to come down and that will cause sports work stoppages.
    When the biggest spenders Yankees/Red Sox are already lowering payroll under the luxury tax number it tells the story of what is coming.
    It has to be that sports has maxed out ticket prices and will be living off TV contracts which also may start going down.

    As for the NHL now that we see the final agreement i really cannot see what Fehr did that was worth losing the players a half season.
    Bettman gets hockey up and running at a perfect time as Jan-April is the most popular time for hockey and the games lost the NHL probably saved money.
    It would have been more fun to watch a court battle but i am okay with hockey being played and will watch.
    It worked out pretty well for the NHL and i think the damage will be a lot less then some think and it will be back to normal in a couple of weeks.
    until we see what loopholes pop up i am good with the deal made and like the fact overall Bettman beat Don the Con handily and that now the Fehrs will never be around sports ever again.

    • Think agin the owners were much to blame for this then the fehrs where.

  3. nobody won this lockout least of all the fans. while most “pundits” seem to think the owners won it’s worth pointing out they thought the same thing last time and were proven wrong over the life of the contract as the players salaries rose significantly. the owners seemingly had no interest in solving the money problems they claimed were behind the lockout, instead they showed more concern for maximizing the profits of the top ten teams. the money issues that have the bottom franchises in trouble weren’t significantly addressed and with at least 8 years before another agreement (assuming this one goes through) you can see trouble ahead but it’s all on the owners now as the NHLPA made proposals designed to enhance revenue sharing that the owners clearly had no interest in.

  4. If the US chooses to pay its long-term debt, rather than default (or inflate), sports is an eminently ‘shrinkable’ area. Cutting ticket prices and salaries 50% does not impact to
    general relationship of the sports elite to the ordinary guy, and will be a necessity as sports attendance will likely be an early and relatively easy item to adjust in both family budgets and corporate promotional and advertising budgets. There may be enough “floor” teams to compete among themselves for a few playoff spots, then hope to knock off the “ceiling” teams in a short series. It’s the way baseball has survived for years, with payroll differentials greater than that hockey will see.