Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Even for die-hard hockey fans, it's easy
to be torn when it comes to keeping up with the NHL's ongoing labor squabble.
Fans obviously care about when the owners and players will agree on a new
collective bargaining agreement because that could have an effect on when the
2012-13 season begins, or if it will be played at all.
However, bringing oneself to understand what the players and owners are
actually fighting over is something that requires either super-human patience
or a Juris Doctor and a passion for labor laws.
For example, take the issue of hockey-related revenues. At first glance it
seems simple enough; the owners and players negotiate over what percentage of
those revenues belong to which side and move along.
Of course, it's not even close to being that simple because the two sides
can't even agree on what constitutes hockey-related revenues in the first
place. So, even though on Tuesday the owners offered the players a larger
share of that revenue than they did in their previous proposal, that gesture
was practically meaningless. In fact, the biggest obstacle in getting a new
CBA done could be the battle over what should fall under the umbrella of
Unfortunately, the last CBA, which was agreed upon only after a lockout wiped
out the 2004-05 season, is not a great help when it comes to understanding the
The previous labor pact describes HRR as money "derived or earned from,
relating to or arising directly or indirectly out of the playing of NHL hockey
games or NHL-related events in which current NHL players participate or in
which current NHL players' names and likenesses are used, by each such club or
the league, or attributable directly to the club or the league from a club-
affiliated entity or league-affiliated entity."
Did you get all that? Me neither. And that's only a blurb from the first page
of Article 50, Section 1 of the CBA. All told, there are about 15 pages of
legalese devoted to the subject in the document and a sizeable part of that
section could change before a new CBA is agreed upon.
Luckily for them, both the owners and players have people on their sides that
do understand this stuff inside and out. However, the casual fan only needs to
know that owners would like to limit the amount of revenues that are
considered to be hockey-related. Obviously, for the players, the more things
that are tabbed as HRR, the better.
So, if you happen to read a NHL labor story over the course of these
negotiations and see that the owners offered the players a 50/50 split of
hockey-related revenues, know that there's way more to it than that.
Then go back to caring about the one question that pertains to fans in this
messy situation: Will I get to watch NHL hockey this year?
Unfortunately, it's anybody's guess as to when that question finally will be
EUROPEAN VACATION FOR NHL STARS?
Back in the spring, the NHL Premiere games -- the ones staged in Europe that
have kicked off every regular season since 2007-08 -- were canceled due to
uncertainty regarding the new CBA.
However, there is still a chance NHL stars will be skating professionally in
Europe during the upcoming season, but only if a lockout wipes out some or all
of the 2012-13 schedule.
Numerous players, including Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa
Bay Lightning stars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, have already
expressed interest in playing in one of Europe's many professional hockey
It would not be surprising to see those players or many others take their
talents across the pond like they did during last lockout, but it's still way
too soon to talk about it. In fact, the Swedish Elite League recently said it
wouldn't allow contracts for NHL players unless the labor impasse cancels the
St. Louis told the Tampa Bay Times that players "have to be patient before you
go to Europe, but it's definitely an option."
Perhaps, players are already talking about waiting out a potential lockout in
Europe because they're trying to play mind games against the owners. Maybe
they think that letting the owners know they'll be all right if the season is
canceled will give them a better negotiating stance.
In reality, however, it will be months before we see the likes of Malkin, St.
Louis or Stamkos suiting up for Dynamo Moscow or any other European club.
The Sports Network