Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm BACK....Alas Hockey is Not

After months of contentious negotiation I am pleased to announce a new CBA has been reached with the owners of this blog (J-God’s Happyland Travel Company and Bakery Inc.) and production of poorly edited blogposts will resume. While I’m not allowed to announce the financial terms of the deal Darren Rovell reports that there will be a 53/47 split of all blogging-related revenue (estimated to be $0.00) generated by this site and a cap of no more than 4 postings a week with a posting floor of one per week. 

I apologize to the fans of this blog (hi mom!) and promise to do all that is necessary to win back your affection because you are truly the BEST BLOG FANS IN THE WORLD!

Speaking of collective bargaining agreements, it’s looking more like I’ll be having to find a way to spend my nights this fall without the National Hockey League. With less than 3 weeks before the current agreement is set to expire, the owners and the players are at the “cut off meetings early” portion of negotiation.  Soon we’ll see the “take time to explore our options” part, then the “alternative solutions presented” meeting, which leads to the “rumors of a threatened lawsuit by one of the parties”. That should lead to a lot of angry columns and rants on the internet.

Nobody needs to see Vinny in an Ak Bars jersey ever again.
It’ll also set the stage for the “meeting late in the night to resolve the dispute before the self-imposed September 15th deadline” that brings a little hope only to be dashed by the “reports that an agreement couldn't be reached” news.  A couple months of “taking our pucks and going to play in Scandinavia” leads to “talks quietly resume” which finally brings us to “an agreement in place that closely resembles the old deal has been reached in time for the NHL to kick off the season with the Winter Classic (Live on NBC and presented by Bud Light!)”.

So at least there is a process.

I should probably be a little more bent out of shape about the whole thing after all, according to the columnists and shrieking heads on TV, I’m the one who is going to get screwed.  The players will still get paid and the owners will still be part of the 1%.  Yet, you know something, I’ll be ok.  Yeah it sucks that I won’t be able to watch the Lightning play for a few months, but in the grand scheme of things that ain’t too bad.  At least I’m not on the hook for season ticket payments for a season that is going to be shortened (sorry ‘bout that, Link).

Pretty sure second row seats 9 and 10 are Link's.

The last time the players and owners couldn’t play in the same sandbox I held my own personal strike. I forwent hockey for an entire season post-lockout.  No watching, no going to games, no buying of cards. Cut them out of my life.  Guess what, it didn’t change anything.  The only thing that happened is that I lost two seasons of enjoying hockey instead of one.  So this time I’ll wait for them to come to an agreement and then I’ll go back to watching the best game in the world.  Does that make me a mindless sheep? I guess so.  I can live with that. Also, is there a singular from of “sheep”? It just sounds weird.

For the record I’m not on either team’s side.  The owner’s offer was insane, not only are they proposing that the players take a smaller slice of pie (46% compared to the current 57% of revenues) they also want the pie to be smaller by redefining hockey-related revenue. They also want to get rid of those annoying “lifetime” contracts that they’re always so happy to announce when they sign a player to them.  Let’s not even talk about the 10 years of player control before they can enter unrestricted free agency. I’m pretty sure they got together (in a room with wood paneling and many leather bound books) and said, “Let’s throw out so many bad ideas at once that hopefully the players will let a few slip by,”  then went back to drinking brandy and watching polo or whatever rich, white guys do.

By those demands, the player’s counter-offer seems almost reasonable (according to the media), but it’s not. Reducing their share of revenues for three years only to go back to the current split in year four doesn’t solve the problem. It only delays the problem for three years. If the owners don’t like the revenue split now, they’re not going to like it in 2015. 

Increased revenue sharing is a good idea (and may be REALLY interesting in a few years if the US dollar rises in value) but allowing the trading of cap space is a horrendous idea that will further the split of the have’s and the have not’s in the league.  Teams that don’t spend to the cap as it is will use it as a way to keep their payroll down while teams who’ve already spent to the cap will be free to take on more bad contracts that will have them crying poor the following season.

The owner’s plan has a “save us from ourselves” feel to it while the players offer gives off a Pollyannaish “if we give you $500 million in revenue now you’ll agree to doing things the old way, right” naiveté to it. I will give Bettman credit, though. He managed to put an offer out there so incredulous that the players assume the salary cap is a given and aren’t even arguing it.

If we give you $500 million now, you'll give us more money later, right Uncle Gary?

Economics are like kryptonite for me (see my bank account for proof) so I can’t even come up with a plan that makes sense and offer a reasoned argument for it. However, having been through the wringer a few times as a sports fan I can predict that eventually they will come to an understanding that doesn’t drastically change the landscape of the sport.

Gazing into my cracked crystal ball (damn cats) I’m thinking the agreement will look something along the lines of a 52/48 split in revenues in favor of the owners.  There will be an expanded revenue sharing system among the clubs while contracts will be capped at 7 years with the amount of the contract spread evenly over the length of the deal. Unrestricted free agency will start after six years.  

At some point (probably in 2013) the NHL will return.  As a cheap sum’a bitch I hope they try and entice the fans back with a reduced price on NHL Center Ice so I can watch the Lightning games on a decent stream, after all it’s all about me, baby! The players and the owners will pat themselves on the back for coming to an agreement and talk about working hard to show the fans how sorry they were, but it needed to be done “For The Good of the Game”.

I’m sure the league will issue a statement about the fans being THE BEST SPORTS FANS IN THE WORLD and try to sweep all the acrimony under the rug by going out on an all-out media blitz on how exciting the young players in the game are and giving away some cheap plastic trinkets on Fan Appreciation Nights.

I’ll be sure to tune in (no trinkets needed!), because it beats watching basketball and if I’m too lazy to use the time productively (learn a new language? Yeah right). Will others?  Probably. For all of our bluster and feigned outrage the bottom line is that the NHL is the best version of hockey there is and that’s what we want to watch. The league knows it, the players know it.  If they really thought the future of the sport was in jeopardy they would ironed a deal out weeks ago.  In the meantime, hey at least you have this blog to read!

Please sign a deal soon. You do not want this man on the streets with free time. #downieforever

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