Saturday, December 11, 2004

NHL Players Have Given the Owners an Out

Lost in real world drama, I have failed to comment on Thursday's NHL meetings. Lest I allow any small matter of global politics or the freedom of 40 million people distract from what REALLY matters, I will address it here.

It looks to me like the players have given the owners a reprieve from their poor business decisions. What other industry, much less professional sport, would have it's employees say, "Look, we understand you are in a bind because you overpaid for our services in a period of temporary prosperity (huge ESPN TV contract, expansion fees) and we understand that our salaries are not in line with future revenues. Therefore, we offer an accross the board 24% salary reduction."?

Now, it's completely on the owners to determine if they can be reasonable. Will they stick to their demand of a hard salary cap, in essence saying "We are too undisciplined as business owners to keep our personnel expenses in line with our revenues, and must be constrained by rules to protect us from our own incompetence.", or will they see compromise and opportunity where it is, and make an agreement that's in everyone's interests.

Hockey in North America isn't strong enough to stomach much more of this stoppage. I think it's already lost some prestige relative to the european leagues, and I'm betting a fair percentage of these guys never come back across the pond.


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