Deadlines exist for a reason. They give us a time frame, a due date, and a sense of urgency. Apparently this concept is lost on the NHL and NHLPA in the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.
The September 15 deadline for a new CBA came and went, leaving the players locked out and fans with little hope for a any season at all.
The really frustrating part in all of this is the negotiating parties’ late recognition that maybe they did not give a contract that handles the distribution of millions of dollars, hundreds of player contracts, and not to mention the existence of a NHL season at all (which provides a livelihood for even more third party workers), enough time to reach an agreement on before the deadline.
“In retrospect I look back at it and, while we were all hopeful during the course of the summer that there was plenty of time to get a deal done, maybe the fault lies in the fact that we didn’t start negotiations until June 29.”
Said Bill Daly after two days of negotiations this week that yielded little forward progress. He went on to say that, “Again, that goes back to the level of urgency maybe with the Players’ Association in not being prepared to have those discussions,” passing some of the blame on to the NHLPA. Deserved or not, both can take the blame for not having enough foresight to have an early start to negotiations that are now costing them shared revenue loss of “about $250 million since the lockout was imposed Sept. 16.”
Even days into the regular season schedule, while not having a CBA finalized is damaging business and fan support, the only topics being discussed in recent meetings have been drug testing, player health, and other minor areas of concern in the CBA one would think would have been resolved long ago.
“This is a bad situation we’re in,” Daly said. “There is no sense of assurance that we haven’t done significant damage to the business, but again I come back to the fact that we wouldn’t do this — knowingly damaging our business — unless there was a reason to do it. That suggests there’s a pretty significant reason.”
One thing we can be sure of is that it is ridiculous for either side to act surprised no agreement has been reached before the start of the season or for owners and union heads to expect any resolution to be met in a timely manner when proper reverence cannot be shown for deadlines, both in the near future and in distant CBA negotiations, in order to schedule and organize productive discussion outside of ceremonial stubbornness.