By now, it’s well known that the NFL has reached an agreement with the Referees Association and have agreed to terms on a new labor agreement. Effective immediately, the “locked out” referees are resuming their normal duties and the “replacement referees” are going far, far away, likely back to the Division 2 and 3 college football leagues they came from.
It’s no surprise that the embarrassing end to the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football was the tipping point and finally motivated each side to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with the NHL, and hockey in general.
Here’s the bottom-line: the egg on the face of the NFL was too much to bear. It caused widespread anger and embarrassment to the league all across social media and it was the highlight story on just about every channel. It was ruining the integrity of the sport, and players and fans were arguably suffering just as much.
As the NHL lockout drags on (we are now in the eleventh day), the league and the NHLPA are no closer to reaching an agreement then they were in the days before the prior CBA was set to expire. That’s disheartening for hockey fans, but my hope is that the quick resolve the NFL and the Referees Association were able to come to once they realized the damage was beginning to seriously effect the game will carry over to the NHL and NHLPA.
True, the issues faced by the NHL and NHLPA are completely different than the NFL and the Referees Association. But there are some parallels, mainly that the referees felt they were not receiving the monetary compensation they felt they deserved, and they wanted to protect their longterm financial stake in a new contract. Some of this may sound familiar to those closely following the NHLPA side of the story.
It has now been reported by Steve Zipay that the NHL and NHLPA plan to meet this Saturday and Sunday to discuss “non-core economic issues”, which translates to non-hockey related revenue items. Expect rights and terms of free agency, contract length, and signing bonuses to be covered over the weekend.
I don’t think we’re going to see an end to the NHL lockout by the beginning of October, and it may not even be before Thanksgiving. But, hopefully the NHL will take a lesson learned from the NFL and work together with the NHLPA as close as possible to reach an agreement sooner rather than later.
The NFL and the Referees Association negotiated until 2 am to reach a preliminary agreement the other day; this same resolve should be happening between the NHL and NHLPA. For too long, I’ve been reading that the two sides are holding “informal negotiations” – and sometimes, that means that Gary Bettman and Don Fehr aren’t even present. A new CBA will never be reached in this fashion.
It’s time to realize the damage that is being done, and stop the bleeding before it turns into an amputation of fans to the sport. Fans may have returned to the NHL in record numbers and revenue after the last lockout, but Bettman and company shouldn’t expect to strike gold twice. Eventually, you’ll just dig yourself a hole. And I won’t be helping him out.