Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pride, hurt feelings driving NHL lockout

Hubris and hurt feelings. That is pretty much what the NHL lockout has come down to.

The owners, taking a page from the 2004-05 lockout, are confident if they play hardball long enough, the players will cave. The players, still seething about the 24 percent pay cut they swallowed after the last lockout, recoil at the thought of another 12 percent cut.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, the unyielding face of the league's squash-'em-like-a-bug effort, has the support of at least the most militant owners.

Union head Donald Fehr has sold his members on solidarity, reminding them fractures among players during the last lockout sapped their strength to resist.

It seems a lot to overcome. Really, though, the sides are not that far apart, and that is what makes this so maddening.

Both agree the split of league revenue is going to be 50-50. The owners want it immediately. The players, who took 57 percent of revenue last season, want the decrease to be gradual. Players also want contracts honored. That's reasonable, given that owners were sufficiently flush in the two days before the lockout began to sign players to contracts worth about $200 million.

For the most part, that's it. Canada's Globe and Mail reported the difference in the opposing positions in a five-year collective bargaining agreement might be as little as $300 million — relative chump change.

Even President Barack Obama, on television with NBC's Jay Leno, chided the very wealthy owners and very well-paid players for being unable to carve up a record $3.3 billion in revenue during a time of national economic stress.

Yet, we have this: games canceled through Nov. 30 — that's 600 to 800 part-time workers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum out of game-day jobs — no negotiations since Oct. 18, none planned and both sides blaming the other in the media.


It's difficult to have sympathy for the owners. Their initial offer of a 43 to 46 percent revenue share for players was unnecessarily hostile. Their unwillingness to meet with the players association last week was unnecessarily petulant. And they failed to tell the union leadership they recently provided a 48-hour window during which owners and general managers could speak to players. That simply amped up the players' already substantial distrust of their employers.

It is the players, too, who are proposing plans that would cost themselves hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of an agreement. And you can't help but wonder if this whole thing could have been avoided had owners been more charitable with revenue sharing to help financially troubled franchises.

That said, the union didn't help matters by waiting until Aug. 14, one month before the old agreement expired, to make its initial proposal. And perhaps the recently received escrow checks of about 8 percent of last season's salaries have provided it just enough cushion to call the bluff of owners who hoped a lack of paychecks would cause players to submit.

Either way, watching billionaires and millionaires fight over how to split a gigantic pot of money has been unseemly. And what likely will be either a shortened season or no season at all is a permanent stain for the league.

Pride, hurt feelings driving NHL lockout 10/27/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 27, 2012 7:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Sunday Morning Quarterback, Week 5


    Team of the Week | Armwood

    Armwood High School defensive end and outside linebacker Fitzroy Gardner during the first half of the Armwood at Jefferson football game in Tampa, Fla., on Friday, September 22, 2017.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  5. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.