NHL lockout 2012: League, union meet to discuss how to take more of your money

Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The NHL is viewing these CBA negotiations in selfish terms. The NHLPA is viewing them in selfish terms. It's high time you do the same.

With rather unwarranted hype, the NHL and NHLPA will meet again today to discuss proverbial "non-core economic" CBA issues.

But regardless of whether the issues are "core," the two sides are ultimately meeting to discuss how to take more of your money.

The NHLPA members believe they deserve something like a 57 percent share of your money. The league believes it deserves at least 50 percent or more of your money.

But despite the league's talk of simply wanting a "healthy" league, and despite the union's talk of wanting to "stabilize" the league, it's all code for the same thing: They want to keep taking your money, and in fact they believe they can take more of it than ever before (which, incidentally, is why it's so important they keep their stake of a growing pie).

The league's talk of increasing its share of that lockout buzzword, "hockey-related revenue?" Basically, they see you spend a lot of money on this sport, and they'd like to keep more of it.

The union chastising the league for not "growing the game" more internationally or by moving more teams to Canada? That's just their more high-minded way of saying they like getting your money, and they'd love to get more of it as revenues -- i.e., the amount you spend on the league -- increase.

You might think this is just a class-based view, or a populist rant, but it's rooted in reality. How else can one explain the league taking ticket orders for the Winter Classic, a destination game, but reserving the right not to cancel the game (and thus issue lockout refunds) until it's too late for fans to alter their plans?

How else does one explain each team in the league clinging on to season ticket money, offering gimmicks to keep that money on hand even after games are canceled -- in short, desperately hoping that this lockout's naked attempt to get more of your money doesn't result in you deciding to give them less of it?

How else does one explain the NHLPA's PR onslaught aimed at fans, and Donald Fehr's wet dreams about a "free market" cap-free environment in a closed league that by definition and structure is anything but? (A true free market would allow teams to collapse and fail at will. That is not something that is good for a league, for its fans, or for a union that would like to maintain 700 jobs. But it makes good patriotic sound bites, so Fehr keeps repeating it like a politician.)

In the last lockout, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cynically suggested that fixing the NHL's skyrocketing payroll issues would also help rein in ticket prices. That's been proven wrong, so the league hasn't bothered with that condescending line this time around.

After the last lockout, despite "losing" the CBA battle, the players benefited handsomely from continued revenue and salary growth. Naturally, they'd like to keep that gravy train rolling because your money buys them nice things. They want to grow revenues and get GMs to bid higher and higher for their services, because they know the expenses are easily passed on to you.

As this reprehensible lockout drags on and each side digs in, remember that one truth persists throughout: Whether it's international hockey, separate hotel rooms for everyone, or the explicit split of hockey revenue they're negotiating over -- ultimately it's your money they're fighting about.

They'll resume the task of trying to take more of it -- not when you're ready to watch NHL hockey again, but when they're good and ready to put more of your cash in their pockets.

If that perspective sounds cynical or self-absorbed, well, good: It fits right in with the parties driving these negotiations.

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