Back to Business School: The NHLPA Doesn’t Really Like the NHL’s 50/50 Offer

by Kolby Solinsky
Editor, White Cover Magazine

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Hold your premature ejaculations, hockey folks…

One of TSN’s finest Insiders, Bob McKenzie (that word Insider is becoming more and more valuable now that Chad Ochocinco is tweeting less), reported on Wednesday morning – about 8 a.m. Pacific Time – that the NHLPA wasn’t exactly jumping for joy over the NHL’s 50/50 offer split.

This is predictable. 50/50 is still seven per cent below what the players get now. It also puts the NHLPA in a tough spot. Now, the fans have seen the NHL (we know, all these similar abbreviations are confusing) and they’ve seen its hands.

The fans have yet to see that from the NHLPA. Lord knows, nobody likes a cock block.

“Simply put, the owners’ new proposal, while not quite as Draconian as their previous proposals, still represents enormous reductions in player salaries and individual contracting rights,” said the NHLPA’s Donald Fehr, in a letter to all of the league’s players and agents.

“The proposal does represent movement from their last negotiating position, but still represents very large, immediate and continuing concessions by players to owners, in salary and benefits and in individual player contracting rules.”

In Fehr’s letter, he highlights some specifics and figures. Notably, the players’ revenue drop from 57 to 50 per cent would result in a decrease of 12.3 per cent of the league’s total haul — $231 million — and a $1.6 billion total salary reduction for players over five years, even though the NHL would see its profits increase by five per cent.

Yeah, okay. Fehr is right.

The NHLPA’s problem, though, is that they are still thinking of this like they were thinking of it eight weeks ago. They’re still fighting for the same positions they believe they were fighting for in 2011. You’ve got to admire their consistency, but they might be advised to take a page from the book of actual businessmen and negotiators — i.e. the owners they’re fighting.

By jumping out and releasing this offer, the owners have shown considerable movement towards the players’ fence, as Fehr pointed out. Of course, that’s probably intentional. It’s probably just some cheeky posturing from the NHL. They really might be rigging this thing in their favour, and they might have no real intention of actually giving into any serious demands the NHLPA is picketing — or, not picketing — for.

These guys make a decent buck, after all. Why would they picket?

But, if this whole lockout continues to be about perception and public perception — which every lockout is — the NHL is currently winning.

They’ve swept the rug out from Aladdin’s feet and now they have the Genie all to themselves.

Unfortunately, this means that Iago and Jafar might win, but the ends often justify the means.