Later this week, the NHLPA will be trotting out some 300 NHL players in New York for the final stages of the CBA talks, and picking up the expenses of the guys who make the trip.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what the point of this is. We get it guys, you’re together in this.

A number of articles have been written, including some on this very site, about fans helplessness in the whole Looming Lockout situation. We’re helpless, because we’re irrelevant to the negotiation of a major business deal. People don’t settle for millions less than they can get because they suddenly develop a soft spot spurred on by a hashtag. Thus, the public relations battle means nothing to those doing the deal, meaning the aforementioned PR war isn’t even a thing, and if it is, it’s only being fought by one side.

There will be no concessions because we all really, really, really want there to be hockey, no matter how many businesses you boycott, or videos you make, etc, etc.

Which is precisely why having the players out to stand behind Donald Fehr means tiddlywinks too. Is there any chance the owners go over the NHLPA’s latest offer and say “Well, we weren’t going settle for your deal, but now that you flew a bunch of humans out here for a photoshoot, WE SEE HOW SERIOUS YOU ARE AND ACCEPT YOUR OFFER?” Negative. The players’ presence has the same value as the hashtag. As fun as it is to imagine them in the boardroom discussing deal details, the fact is that they’ve got about as much say in things at this point as you or I.

So maybe it’s for the whole “PR battle” we’ve already noted doesn’t exist, but maybe the PA thinks it does. If that’s the case, why are they working so hard to get the fans on their side? NHL players are the players, the guys we get to know, we buy their jerseys, we’re already big fans. Most of us couldn’t care less about the owners, let alone pick one out of a line-up.

Yet they still keep tweeting “We just want to play,” “Let us play,” “The owners won’t let us play.” Yeah, they won’t because the lawyers are still negotiating, so sit here with the rest of us, grab a cup of cocoa, and wait to find out if there’s going to be a season or not. We’re with you. Just stop parading around like a kid in the kitchen saying “I’m helping, right Mommy?”

Yesterday, Josh Gorges did a conference call where, from what I heard, he basically read talking points to the media. Josh Gorges? No offense to Josh, but I know the guy a little, and I don’t think he spends a ton of his free-time going over Quebec labour laws. Why not have some team rep explain things to the media? What’s with the need for inclusion in this?

So we’ve gone from over-simplifying things (“We just want to play!”), to over-complicating them (mistaking the players for lawyers), and in the end, none of it matters. A group of men who know about these complex arrangements are hashing out the numbers, and the presence of 1000 NHLers isn’t going to speed up the process any. The posturing is a waste of time.

Some day, an agreement will be reached. Whether that comes in October, December or 2013, they’ll get there. And when they do, it certainly won’t be because the players flew across the continent to stand behind a guy who was in town to actually do some work.

Comments (10)

  1. sure the Show of Solidarity isn’t about to make the owners quiver but that might not be the whole point either. Though I’ve never been a professional athlete and though I’m far, far, far from a millionaire, I have been locked out by my employer and something as simple as the Show of Solidarity proposed by the NHLPA can still have a positive impact on the players. It might help them feel less isolated and, of course, it’s not as if the players are flying in only for the photo-op, they’re flying in to stay abreast over negotiations which have huge effect on their careers.

    I don’t know Josh Gorges and I didn’t hear the conference call, but if he wants to engage himself in what concerns his future and that of his teammates, I say good on him. I guess it comes down to what kind of role the NHLPA should play. Is it there just to provide a service to players (in which case the players should shut up and listen to their lawyers) or is it also there to engage the players in taking control over aspects of their lives and careers? If it’s even a bit the latter, then the Show of Solidarity and Josh Gorges as wannabe Labour Lawyer, should be encouraged and are exactly what the NHLPA should be doing.

  2. Those are solid points, well said.

    • In an age where many young people are apathetic about issues that affect their lives, their livelihood, their rights, the environment, I for one feel that the level of engagement displayed by the players in an issue (even if it is a billionaire vs millionaire war as it is being termed) is refreshing. Whatever the outcome, one would hope that the NHLPA can leverage this participation into other future endeavours that benefit the game. I don’t consider it a waste of time at all.

  3. I think the players and NHLPA have been patting themselves on the back about how well they are doing in this “PR war”. Pride comes before the fall though.

    I’ve seen a number of well researched articles lately that point out that, yes, the owners offer was unreasonable, but so was the players offer. The players will start losing that war very, very quickly, solely because they are the faces of the team. I’m a Sharks fan, and only 1 in 50 fans here here even KNOW who the owners actually are. The more casual the fan, the quicker they will turn on the players, particularly when the current %57 figure is bandied about.

    Fehr isn’t dumb. He knows this. Expect a concerted and continuing effort to both keep the players together and continue winning the war.

  4. “So we’ve gone from over-simplifying things (“We just want to play!”), to over-complicating them (mistaking the players for lawyers), and in the end, none of it matters.”

    That is such a terrific assessment of the nonsense that goes on in these negotiations. Just get it done and wake me when it’s over.

  5. “Just stop parading around like a kid in the kitchen saying “I’m helping, right Mommy?””

    This is an amazing line. Love it.

    I tend to agree that parading players before the media isn’t exactly the best strategy. Sure it may make the PA or certain players feel warm, fuzzy and engaged, but something about it rubs me the wrong way.

    These guys are, by and large, not the most educated bunch; having them regurgitate speaking points without something substantial to back them up is silly. Getting them together as a show of solidarity (particularly within the current global economic climate) comes off as a bit of a stomach turner.

    Both sides need to shut up, stop posturing, get in a room, and get a 50/50 deal done. Why dick around for months, when that’s where everyone knows this is headed?

  6. Lock the players out. Overpaid. There are 10 teams losing money. Enogh is enough. Cut the league to 20 teams and half the players and get rid of the salary cap. this is not an American sport and can’t have 30 teams in the league. The hockey market in the US is not strong enough for it. Players and the league need major concession to keep the league viable. Cut the teams and salaries and the number of players and get back to real hockey and reality.

    • THIS! Too many teams, in places that don’t need them. It’ll make for much, much better hockey, and alot fewer problems.

  7. Cutting teams means less revenue. TV deals don’t get done on big networks because Canada and a few teams in the north have good hockey. They get done because they have national and multinational appeal. Take the teams out of non-traditional markets and ALL TV money and Merchandise money go down. The Coyotes contribute to the Rangers profits by bringing fans in who wouldn’t be there otherwise … They just need to do well enough to keep their fans with them instead of going to the prominent winners. Bergman understands this and that’s why contraction hasn’t happened.

  8. If I recall correctly, one of the driving forces behind the last lockout was that the uber-top players like Jagr were driving the ‘no salary cap’ issue to the exclusion of any other aspect of the negotiations, that it was those few top players who kept the agreement from happening sooner, and it was that disunity that led to the still-current CBA that kept so many pockets brimming with ever increasing cash. As suchj, the current ‘show of unity’ was the players to each other, with Crosby up there with everyone else, that it is not the top who are going to make or break an agreement over a self-serving issue.

    Regardless of reality, it is almost gospel that the owners won and the players lost the last lockout, and a significant source of that was the disunity, that the top-shelf guys who held out against any salary cap caused all the players to ‘lose’ with the CBA.

    The ‘cap’ was THE redline for the owners last time, they weren’t going to agree to anything without it, and with it the owners had a philosphical rallying point. This lockout seems to be that the NHL owners saw the NFL and NBA owners get a higher share of revenues following their lockouts than them , and they don’t want to look like schmucks for agreeing to take less of a share, all the b.s. about financially weak teams and revenue sharing aside.

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