The NHL's Offer Won't End the Lockout

Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

The NHL's offer today is a negotiating tactic and nothing else.

Yesterday the story of Luntz's think tank working for the NHL broke. Luntz Global's purpose is to redefine terms to win public relations battles on complicated issues which is why the NHL is working with them.

Today's CBA offer of a 50/50 split is a move designed solely to win the PR war against the NHLPA and add leverage for the NHL. Let's go through a bunch of it.

Per BSH's Geoff Detweiler in 2004 before the lockout the players took home about 74% of league revenues. This was given freely to the players by the owners who were acting solely to win hockey games and manage successful businesses.

There's no reason that a 50/50 split is "fair" or "unfair". In truth the only fair split is whatever both parties finally agree on, but 50/50 is great for the owners who would continue to pay less for the players and simple people think "splitting it down the middle" is somehow fair to both sides.

This NHL offer increases ELCs from three years to four and (Update: John Shannon of Sportsnet pointed out that he messed this up in his zeal to be first rather than to be accurate. It'll remain at 3 years) raises the UFA age to eight years of service. On top of leaving 7% of revenues on the table (a 14% paycut) the players would also be under team cost control longer, losing even more money.

The NHL's inclusion of "games could start November 2nd and we'd play all 82" is ridiculous. It's October 16th. If the NHL wanted a two week training camp the deal would have to be signed by Thursday.

This does not seem like a genuine attempt to end the lockout. This seems like NHL owners are trying to win the PR war so they can wage an extended lockout and force NHLers into their terms. The NHL's offer was designed to get people excited about a season happening in much the same way that Luntz' coining of "death panels" was designed to get people to dismiss health care reform in the US.

The sad thing is that it's working.

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