Saturday, December 8, 2012
Just as it looked like the NHL and the NHLPA were making major traction, to the point that people were eagerly anticipating puck drop, everything went to hell, coincidentally when the players wanted to bring Donald Fehr back to close the deal. Now everything's off the table and Gary Bettman is fuming.
"What you're witnessing is very tough bargaining," Bettman said in a press conference after Thursday night's talks. "We kept giving and giving and giving. We made five different proposals. We did something completely unorthodox—we kept negotiating against ourselves."
If Bettman is upset that the owners are negotiating against themselves, he has no one to blame but himself. The fact that the NHL tabled such a ridiculous proposal in the summer gave them no choice. The owners were going to have to give up plenty of the outlandish terms they initially wanted in order to get the terms they realistically could expect (e.g., a 50-50 split of HRR).
But that isn't the usual give-and-take that happens in negotiations. Usually, you give the other side something important in order to get something important for yourself.
In the last round of CBA negotiations, the ones that ultimately cost the 2004-05 season, the players were forced to take on a salary cap and were generally hammered by the owners. All was not bad, however. During negotiations they won in other areas, such as liberalized free agency. Give-and-take.
During these negotiations there has been less give-and-take. It's more like give, give, give. But despite what Bettman claims, it isn't the owners that are giving.