Welcome to the newest edition of “Point/Counterpoint,” where a pair of Flyers Faithful scribes present both sides of one particular issue with their own unique view and flair.
This week Dain S and Jim H debate whether the looming NHL lockout is the players fault or the owners fault.
Point, Jim: Defending the players…Make no mistake, no matter what happens as a result of this lockout, nobody wins. Not the fans and certainly not the entirety of the National Hockey League (players and owners), that has built a strong foundation since their last lockout, almost 10 years ago.
The Winter Classic, and surrounding hoopla has turned the NHL into “Must Watch TV” and its stock is rising. Nothing like a new lockout to throw the transmission into park while coasting at a good speed.
If both sides were smart, they’d get this thing worked out quickly and get back to the business of rocking our socks off. However, while I see both points of view, it’s hard to feel sorry for the owners, when they have spent the better part of this off season, throwing money at a small group of players. Some of these contract offers are for contracts in upwards of 15 years or more. Not really a great idea to show your cards before playing poor mouth in the bargaining room.
While I would agree that the owners have a degree of culpability in the forthcoming labor standoff, I would remiss in not pointing out that the players have set this showdown up as well. When they hired Donald Fehr to head the NHLPA, they knew what they were getting into. Fehr’s long history with the most powerful union on Earth, the MLBPA, shows a man who is willing to have his union strike for long periods of time to get what he wants. Fehr is not what you would call a “peacetime” consigliere.
If the players really wanted labor peace, the Players Association should have started working towards a new agreement last year and not waited until the current agreement was going to expire. They knew the owners would not extend the current agreement, yet they acted as if they would. Owners are always going to cry poor, but with the financial situation in Phoenix, New Jersey and Long Island, who can blame them?
The sad part is the only side that is really going to lose is the fans, while Fehr and Bettman have a spitting contest. While the players have the edge in the PR battle thus far, the owners are one Fehr press conference away from being in the driver’s seat. Tread lightly Donald, or the cries you hear for Gary Bettman’s job might turn into cries for yours instead.