Hey, it's mid-August. That means we're a little more than a month away from NHL training camp. So it's time to get excited again about all your favorite prospects, like that kid from Canadian major junior who was on the bubble last year but will definitely make the team this year, and all your new free agents. It's also time to temper all that excitement because there's definitely gonna be a lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires on Sept. 15.
Here's Larry Brooks in Saturday's New York Post, explaining just how poorly the NHL's owners are behaving:
The league isn't even attempting to justify its position of demanding massive givebacks from the players in order to be allowed to play without interruption.
Imagine if the NHLPA had come to the NHL a month ago and said the players would go on strike unless all existing contracts immediately were increased by 24 percent. Imagine if Zach Parise had used his union to indirectly tell Wild owner Craig Leipold the $98 million sounded good at the time he signed as a free agent, but the winger would now require the deal be bumped to $121.52 million before he would put on a Minnesota uniform.
Yet when the owners want to unilaterally renege on contracts into which they entered into willingly and without threat or duress, somehow this is regarded as a sound negotiating tactic. This may be a legal tactic under labor law, but it is reflective of bad faith and illustrative of the NHL's disregard for its own word and for its owners' own signatures.
To reiterate: the NHL seeks a 24 percent rollback in all existing contracts, including the ones that were signed, gleefully, as recently as, oh, earlier this month. This 24 percent rollback would also come after the 24 percent rollback the players agreed to after the last lockout.
NHL owners can't control themselves, even though there's a big ol' salary cap. And the owners don't want to cope with the reality that their sport is supremely unpopular, bordering on financially unviable, in perhaps half its markets. So they're going to squeeze the players. And unless the players allow themselves to be squeezed, there's not going to be any hockey next year. Pro sports are awful sometimes.
Bettman playing dirty [NYP]