NHL Lockout: Uncle Blame's Cabin

Mario Tama

Do you think the league and the players share the blame for the lockout 50/50? "Good", thinks Gary Bettman.

Do you care which side is more to blame in the NHL lockout for why we're not likely to see NHL hockey before the end of the year?

No? Cool. I can respect that. Nothing I'm about to say here is directed at you.

Do you care which side is to blame, but actively think that the correct share of blame is 50/50 between the NHL and the players' union?

You're wrong. You're wrong and you're part of the problem.

We've consistently talked about the PR war and about how it doesn't really matter. I've said that as long as fans care about the PR war, both sides are winning. The best way to keep fans interested is to keep it close. Even then, people who have been following this sport for three decades are tuning out the bullshit and are starting to slowly but surely fill their lives with things more meaningful and less stressful than tuning into the posturing horseshit.

We've also discussed that fan opinions don't really weigh into the negotiations. I still believe this is generally true. However, while the NHL and NHLPA may not feel fan pressure to get a deal done, they certainly will feel the absence of that pressure. The problem is that the pussyfooting fans who say that the blame is equal for both sides are really only feeding back into the PR war and asking for the status quo... more posturing horseshit.

What you end up with is this system where fans are tuning in every day to fill their otherwise-hockey-bereft lives with the soap opera drama that comes from another day of the NHL's cartoonishly evil way of going about these negotiations juxtaposed against the NHLPA's cartoonishly stupid means of not shutting their idiot players the hell up and letting people just naturally take their sides.

But when did evil and dumb become the exact same problem, deserving of equal parts blame for a situation that isn't resolved?

Don't get me wrong, the NHLPA isn't innocent and I think every time a player opens his mouth, the IQ fairy aborts a billion unborn brain cells, but it's not 50/50 blame. The biggest problem is that the NHLPA is chasing along on the PR war like the dumb puppies many of them are instead of letting the big dog they hired specifically to take on the NHL do his job of continuously keeping things on-point.

The entire frame of the argument has suddenly turned to "how much money do the players have to give back." and the general consensus is that number is above $0.

.... has the NHL ever explained why? Gosh yes, we all know that record revenues does not equal record profits, but why the fuck do you spend two years blowing smoke up our asses about the first without anything resembling a hint that the second was becoming a problem? Now suddenly it's a big enough problem that the NHL simply CANNOT go on under the old system?

Fucking. Prove it.

What we've heard from the league is that it's a "fundamental economics" thing that apparently they think we're too stupid to grasp, since they haven't bothered explaining what fundamentals they're talking about. Then we got the simple "We just think the players make too much money" argument from Bettman which has somehow not been posted in 72-point font on the NHLPA's website since the day those words escaped Commisioner Bettman's lips. Once upon a time, we also got a fun little tidbit that the league has "lost $240M over the last two seasons" in hockey operations. Remember when that got them laughed off the stage?

Fucking. Prove it.

Then the NHL got their collective dicks stuck in a PR zipper with the Luntz Global Group fiasco and have been playing every obvious PR trick in the book since then and people STILL buy that the players share even responsibility for the lockout simply because they never accepted the original premise from the league that a pay cut was absolutely necessary to save the sport.

Fu...do I even have to say it again?

The only things they've said this week are that if the NHLPA isn't willing to outright accept that premise and negotiate from a starting point wherein they give hundreds of millions of dollars back in salary that there's never been a shred of proof are required, then there's no point in meeting and they'll be FORCED to continue the lockout for an indeterminate period of time.

Essentially, the 50/50 blamer's position is that the NHLPA refuses to give in to demands and continues to stick up for itself... and that they're assholes for it.

I personally think that's a lazy, malformed, and naive opinion borne of the kind of person who wants the drama more than they want the resolution. It's hard to pay attention to all the doublespeak and actually figuring out what makes up HRR is a pain in the ass. Then, comparing that to the other deals you magically assume to be "fair" is an even bigger drain on the brain.

Just remember, dumb is every bit as bad as evil here.

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