Can We Stop Please?

Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

The NHLPA wants us to believe they just want to play hockey. The NHL owners want us to believe they need more money for the league to function. They're both lying, so don't buy into it.

On and on goes the circle jerk about the collective bargaining agreement that's currently being negotiated between the NHL and NHLPA. But how much honest analysis is there to be found? In my opinion, almost none.

Part of this is because Donald Fehr has done an excellent job in framing the situation to look a certain way, another part because the owners of the 30 NHL teams are not sympathetic figures to anyone, anywhere, another part is because everyone and their dog hates Gary Bettman (unless you live in Winnipeg).

I've been reading a constant stream of tweets about how one side of the negotiation is greedy and the other side just wants to play, or how Gary Bettman shouldn't make nearly $8 million per year (Newsflash: Yes he should). None of this is relevant or even true. Bettman's salary is especially irrelevant to this conversation. It doesn't impact the negotiations one iota, yet it's brought up continually by journalists? Why? To make him look like the bad guy. Enough already, he's always been the bad guy, we don't need to slammed over the head with an out of context number like that. He's the lowest paid commissioner in North American pro sports, just fyi.

The crux of the negotiation is simple. Both sides want the most possible money they can make from the next CBA. Both sides are in it for the money. The players don't just want to play, they want to play for the most possible money they can make. This isn't something they should be hated for.

The owners don't want to lock out the players because they're evil, they want to renegotiate the CBA so that they make as much money as possible from the league's revenue, to prop up the teams who don't make much or any under the current CBA, and to lessen the revenue sharing responsibilities of the ones who make a lot. This isn't a reason to hate the owners either.

Both sides are self interested, both sides want to get their hands on as much as they possibly can. Neither side gives a shit about you. Try to remember that before you retweet a disingenuous tweet by a player appealing Bettman to "let us play". This is a tactic by the NHLPA to manipulate public support.

The framing of public pressure currently going on is wrong. It's not any fan's fault, it's just a good job done by Fehr and inherent biases that no one can avoid, but it's time to stop the "The owners are evil and the players just want to play" bull. The narrative needs to change. Stop writing stories about how one side is being treated unfairly or how one side is evil, and tell them both to stop the damn pissing contest. Sit down at the negotiating table and don't leave until you find common ground. Whether the players or the league has to take a hit doesn't matter. Ticket prices won't go down, players won't struggle to support their families. The only losers here are you and me, the fans.

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