Greetings Caniacs! I hope you all have enjoyed your summer. As the kids go back to school and the summer temps cool down, I just can’t wait for the upcoming hockey season. Just to bring you all up to date on the current negotiations between the NHL and the players union I can sum it up with one word “slow”. I cannot imagine these negotiations moving any slower. There are only nineteen days left until the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires and the owners already have said that the doors will be locked if a new agreement is not signed, sealed and delivered by the 15th of September.
As both parties cannot even get past the talking stage of the CBA, the meetings have now been moved to New York and will continue on Tuesday. This is a very important week for both parties to show a little flexibility. Let’s just talk about one topic that is absolutely a necessity for the owners to consider being a little lenient on. Player free agency! Owners do not want a player to become an unrestricted free agent until they have played in the NHL for 10 years. Now let’s just think about this for a moment. If a player enters the NHL at twenty one years old that would mean he cannot get the contract that every NHL player dreams of getting by becoming a free agent until he is thirty one years old. By that time most players may only play for three or four more years unless you are as fortunate as say a Nicklas Lidstrom or a Shane Doan. So that mega million dollar contract that the players are looking for is not going to be offered to them. Don’t get me wrong professional hockey players are paid well but their window of opportunity to set themselves and their families up for success is very small. Becoming an unrestricted free agent is the one way that they can ensure that they are financially stable for many, many years to come.
To bring it into perspective, imagine you just graduated from college and a firm hired you with the stipulation that you have to work for them for ten years until you can seek a more lucrative position. Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I know that may be a bit ridiculous but hopefully that gets you to think, just for a second, what these players are going through. I could see a player not being able to become an unrestricted free agent for seven years but ten? That is something the owners are going to have to reconsider if they want to move these negotiations along.
The current CBA has seen the NHL grow from a $2.1-billion industry to one that pulls in $3.3-billion annually — a fact that isn’t lost on either side. However this is not good enough for the 30 owners of the NHL. Commissioner Gary Bettman has publicly said that the owners feel they are paying way too much. So their idea of negotiating is that the NHLPA agrees with their current proposal or the doors are locked ON September 15th. I don’t know about you, but something tells me if there are no Hockey games being played there is no money coming in. If no money is coming in are the owners being that productive with their negotiating tactics? Things that make you go Hmmmm.
The NHL has experienced a shortened season in the 90’s and a complete cancellation of a season in 2004. Commissioner Gary Bettman is not too overly concerned with a work stoppage as he was quoted last week saying “We recovered well last time because we have the world’s greatest fans.” Well I will say this Commissioner, there are some passionate Caniacs out there… however how much of this do you think we are going to tolerate. If every time you go to the negotiating table there is a work stoppage or even a threat of a work stoppage, the world’s greatest fans will not be so patient.
Let’s say both parties miraculously agree on a new deal by the 15th of September. There is a full calendar of events for Caniacs to follow heading into the beginning of the 2012-13 season. There is the start of the Hurricanes Camp, the 13th annual Caniac Carnival and at the end of September the preseason games begin. So in the meantime Caniacs continue to check back with us on the current CBA process and updates about your Carolina Hurricanes.