Bettman and Fehr: This is really the best you could ever expect from this duo. Their egos, goals and past experience are creating a perfect storm of employer/employee discourse. The only part that wasn’t predictable is they have kept their disdain for each other hidden by a facade of cordiality.
The NHL brand: Belongs to the league, not the players. We go watch our Canes play, not an individual. (Unless you are 15-17, female and hope to see Justin Beiber on the ice.) Our best outcome is a financially robust hockey team, able to repetitively put a highly competitive team on the ice. It is not individual highly compensated skaters
Salaries: Since free agency and resignings began this season, the consensus view from almost every hockey blog on almost every player signed or resigned was the player was overpaid for too long a term. At whatever % of revenues the players accept their salaries will regrow at the same rate the NHL hockey brand grows. Today's cut is tomorrow's windfall. A fixed percentage of revenue without risk is a deal that always makes Donald Trump do the money dance. Future NHLers will forever revere this group of players for locking in a 50% unburdened share of revenues well into the future.
Owners: Take the risk, pay all the costs beyond salaries. There are about a half dozen teams with low financial risk, 24 with major risk. Their costs have and can rise exponentially and unpredictably. As an example, Chris Pronger is receiving $6mil/year for 5 more years. When Islander players ante money up for Charles Wang to cover his loses my attitude on this could change.
Unions: Effective in raising wages and improving working conditions for underpaid and exploited workers. NHL hockey players don’t fit in this stereotype. There may be an issue regarding player safety, but I overall see few signs that the NHLPA cares about this issue.
Accountants: Here's the rub. They are all that really matter. Until you have a full-time CPA working for you you can’t understand that 1+1 does not have to = 2. Very “fuzzy math” on the hockey related revenues, hockey related costs, inter-related businesses and the associated tax implications makes the numbers difficult to grasp. The NHLPA primary focus in the negotiations should be truth in accounting from the NHL.
CBA negotiations: In what other fields do the employees demand a salary with the expectation of getting it? Any employee who feels they are underpaid could (and should) enter the job market and find the better paying job they deserve with another employer. Any NHL player is free to sign in any other hockey league in the world to find a better paying job on the ice. They choose to play in the NHL, they are not forced to.
Revenue Sharing: Just not a player decision, it’s not their money.
Retirement: If you find a job that pays a sound retirement after 5-10 years of employment you are working in the US Senate or Congress. You get a job, retire old, then play as you can. NHLers play a game, retire young, and then get a job.
Existing Contracts: Should be honored as written and signed. Owners should not get a mulligan for overpaying or “overterming” a player. The players should not have to fix owner stupidity.
Lockout: Just not something a fan should get their panties in a wad about. It’s not like we are paying for the games they aren’t playing. Short term I now have money invested at 5% that will be effectively tax free. Next year, if I reup I get a 10% discount. Hated paying for preseason games and didn’t need another sucky October anyway. The owners and players are looking foolish. Find a hobby until the collective foolishness ends.
Players going to Europe: Without significance. When the lockout ends they have to return. They are just killing time, staying in shape and babe watching on another continent. (While putting another hockey player out of work. So much for worker solidarity.) Everyone of them will enthusiastically race back here the moment they can. (If only we could count on Ovechkin making good on his threat to stay in the KHL.) The NHL is the best gig they can have. Period.