For those of you who follow the labor movement, but who aren't hockey fans, or have a hard time caring about the collective bargaining fate of 1%ers and just how much richer they'll get from us: you should care.
I've been a labor/employment lawyer my entire career and an intense hockey fan my entire life. In the last lockout, I thought the players were the ones who needed to be a little bit more realistic because the league had suffered from a spate of bankruptcies, one team had in fact opened up its books (the LA Kings) and the owners were losing money. Now, there's no doubt: the owners were losing money mainly due to their own bad decisions.
But going forward, there had to be either a salary cap (less money, same amount of jobs) or a contraction (same amount of money, less jobs). The salary cap was keyed to league revenues and it didn't take long for the top earners to get back in the range they were pre-lockout. Despite this, it is quite clear that many in the NHLPA leadership only acquiesced to that deal in the first place because they planned to have it out next time around.
This time is entirely different. No one disputes that the NHL is making more money than ever. The NHL simply wants the players to get less of an expanding pie. It almost seems as if they're mad that their "win" in 2005 wasn't as real as they thought at the time.
Why this should pique the interest of labor folks is that almost none of the owners do hockey for their day job. Most of them are titans of industry, and are playing these negotiations exactly how they would be expected to deal with labor in those other industries.
What's most telling to me is, as I mentioned, the fact that the NHL isn't asking the NHLPA to take a hit just to save the sport. No, they're just asking the NHLPA to take a hit because fuck them is why. Actually, what appears to be their latest move is an attempt to split the union apart and neutralize it.
And the sports press—who make the political Villagers look like incisive geniuses—are trying to maintain their "bro" status by still sniffing the jocks of individual players, are, for the most part extremely biased towards either a "both sides" narrative or are pro-NHL, even if they take a shot at Gary Bettman here and there.
And the most virulent anti-NHLPA talk seems to be coming from the Canadian press and the Canadian fans who, perhaps due to their earnestness, seem to think that it's madness that everyone won't compromise (sorta their version of bipartisan).
A compromise, of course, assumes that meeting in the middle of current offers means an equal level of concession of equal reasonableness to both sides.
The lesson I take from this is, ironically, as long as you can, don't make offers, Boehner style. Or if you do, only make them to appear like you're moving but containing some poison pill you know the other side can accept.
Because any good faith offer will be diluted again and again by the other side and by the external pressure calling for "compromise."