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Will there be an NHL season?

November 14, 2012|This post has been updated. See note below.
  • NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, above, wants players to concede more, and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr believes they have given up enough.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, above, wants players to concede more, and… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)

Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss whether there will be an NHL season. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to join the conversation with a comment of your own.

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times

As determined as the NHL seems to become irrelevant, there’s still a chance its labor dispute with the NHL Players’ Assn. will be resolved in time to play a season of 50 to 60 games.

Unlike the 2004-05 dispute, when the league needed a complete economic overhaul that included the adoption of a salary cap, the issues at stake here are not that large. The league and the NHLPA have agreed on a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenues, a huge move. How they go from the 57% players received last season to an even split remains the problem.

Delaying free agency and salary arbitration for a year aren’t worth losing the season. But NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wants players to concede more, and NHLPA Executive Director Donald  Fehr believes they gave up enough in the last dispute and again in these talks. As usual, the fans are the biggest losers.

Harvey Fialkov, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Absolutely. Last week’s marathon meetings pointed to a potential Dec. 1 start, but despite the two sides agreeing on the most divisive sticking point regarding a 50-50 revenue split, the sessions soon needed a referee and enforcer to intervene.

It’s no secret that NHL player’s union chief Donald Fehr plays hardball. Ask baseball fans about the sacrilegious cancellation of the 1994 World Series. This is the third work stoppage under the condescending guidance of NHL Commish Gary Bettman, including the entire 2004-05 season.

Let Fehr’s brother, Steve, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly iron out any contractual issues. The billionaire owners should absorb the lockout costs as they turned the key.

There’s time to salvage the season. The 1995 lockout resulted in a 48-game season that didn’t start until Jan. 20.  Drop the petty ego games and drop the puck.

Glenn Graham, Baltimore Sun

As bleak as it looks -- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Tuesday the players and owners stand “very far apart” as the lockout is now in Day 60 -- pucks will be dropped this season. There is simply too much money (a record $3 billion last year) and too much at stake not to get a deal done. 

The NHL is the only major league in North America to have an entire season canceled, taking place in 2004-05 under current Commissioner Gary Bettman’s watch. He saw the negative impact, but the league climbed out and is now enjoying more success than ever. This is not the time to take two steps back. 

Donald Fehr, executive director of the NHLPA, led the players’ strike in baseball that canceled the only World Series in 1994 and is not one to crack. But a good sign came last weekend when, after a rough day of negotiations on Friday, the two sides went right back at it on Saturday and Sunday. They seem in agreement of a 50-50 split of revenues (the last contract gave the players 57%), but how quickly getting there is the sticking point. Owners want the split effective immediately, while players are saying not so fast.  

In the 1994-95 NHL season, the players were locked out for 104 days before playing an abbreviated 48-game season that started Jan. 20.  This time, an agreement will come sooner -- sometime next month -- and NHL fans end up with a similar shortened season.   

[Updated at 1:50 p.m. Nov. 14:

Chris Kuc, Chicago Tribune

There are too many issues, too many egos and too few days left on the calendar to save the 2012-13 NHL season.

In the roller-coaster ride that has been the negotiations between the league and players’ union on a new collective bargaining agreement, things are at a standstill. The owners aren’t going to settle unless they get the deal they want and the players aren’t going to be steam-rolled into an agreement that costs them money now and in the future. Throw in the boardroom battle that often seems personal between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA head Donald Fehr and the prospects for saving the season appears lost.

The lockout will end next summer when the players are threatened with a second consecutive missed season so expect a long, cold winter at NHL arenas.]


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