One of Donald Fehr's objectives in negotiating a new CBA as Director of the NHLPA was to create stability in the NHL in an attempt to end the cycle of labor stoppages that have enveloped the sport.
After 113 grueling days that saw hockey lose nearly half the season, millions in revenue and potentially scarred fans for life from engaging in the coolest sport on Earth, Fehr and Commissioner Gary Bettman reached a tentative agreement in the wee morning hours of January 6.
But will the new CBA actually create labor peace?
Among the new details awaiting to be ratfied by both sides, the new CBA calls for a 10-year length and opt-outs in Year 8. To me, that beckons for the same show we witnessed recently to creep up again in eight years. No matter how much the sport grows over the next eight seasons and no matter how much record revenue is generated, I can almost assure you the NHL will be immersed in another lockout.
Why? Because there will always be something that needs to be fixed, some reason for the owners to cry that their sport is severely damaged (when in reality, they can't help themselves like a child to a dessert buffet table).
In 2004, it was "cost certainty" that wiped an entire season of the books. The executives of the NHL were not signing any deal that did not include a salary cap. This time around, it was "profit certainty" to limit long-term contracts, mitigating the damage of future mistakes from trigger-happy owners.
What could the issue be heading into the 2019-2020 season? It hasn't manifested yet. The games have to be played. The ridiculous circumventing has to occur again before we see how this new agreement is flawed. The fans will have to endure an eight-year high before having the air let out slowly from their ballon.
The cycle has to start again. The same cycle Donald Fehr wished to end, but ultimately knew it was never possible to do.
Wouldn't surprise me. What did I tell you the other day. If they were smart, they'd figure it all out over the next 8 years. I'd hope that's a substantial amount of time, but knowing how selfish both sides are....
What, exactly, did Fehr do " to create stability in the NHL in an attempt to end the cycle of labor stoppages that have enveloped the sport"? I didn't see one thing in the NHLPA's offers or operations during this labor dispute that showed any concern for creating stability. Fehr had plenty of opportunity, given his position as the controlling force behind the NHLPA, he simply did nothing other then try to stand his ground.
The NHL came in crying poor, claiming 18 of it's 30 teams were losing money. Fehr never once provided evidence to dispute this. The NHL wanted to start talks by redefining HRR, to make it truly reflect the expenses associated with operating an NHL team, but Fehr and the PA refused to consider that.
Fehr gave in to the 50/50 split, with little opposition, reducing how much money every player in the league stands to make. Instead he fought the NHL for greater variation from year to year, and longer contracts - things what won't help productive NHL players make more, but will only allow more under performing players to keep eating up cap space and taking revenue from more deserving players.
If Fehr wanted to bring stability, he should have come with ideas on how to do that. He never once showed that. His motivation was only to keep as much of the staus quo as possible. Opening up talks by examining the definition of HRR, and creating a definition that reflects what it takes to run a team today would be a good start. Next, closing the loopholes that allow teams, players and agents to abuse the salary cap that was designed to bring financial stability to the league would seem like the fair thing to do.
Now with the owners expenses covered, and salary cap hits reflecting the true value of the deals, Fehr could have started talking about how to slice up the NEW pie. Sure the NFL and NBA just signed 50/50 splits, but those leagues don't promise the owners that they CAN'T lose money. In the NHL, you expenses are now coming off the top. The owners do little more then provide some bridge loans. Fehr, having given the owners the cost certainty and profit certainty they wanted, could now ask for a BIGGER slice of the pie for his players, maybe a 65/35 or 70/30, and would have made the owners look bad for not giving it to him.
Fehr didn't do anything like that though, cause he knew the deal the players had was too good to be true in this economic climate, and that getting a fair deal, that would bring stability would have brought the NHLPA joy ride to fast halt.