A final thought on the lockout
Let's get out our pipes and our brandy, head over to the fireside and ponder deep thoughts.
This one stings. This one stings much more than the last one--and last time, we lost a whole season. How can that be?
As the details of the tentative CBA leak out, I think it's because I can't help but think: We missed three months of games for this? The last lockout was about principle, at least as much as it could be in a bottom-line dollar world. Owners were losing money and wanted a system in place to limit how much they were losing and prevent those who weren't in dire financial straits to use that as a major competitive advantage. Players had no real desire or reason to give up the freedoms they enjoyed, and why should they? They weren't responsible for owner stupidity.
This time, I don't even know where to start aiming with my laser-beam-eyes-of-hate. I can't even see a hill of principle to die on. They canceled 625 games to move the salary cap down $6M from what it would have been under the old CBA? They wasted 113 days barking at each other like chained dogs for contract terms affecting a minority of players? There aren't any major rule changes or immediate realignments coming out of this deal. What we've seen is a three-month long engagement at the theater of rhetoric and vitriol for what looks like nothing more than a slight shift from what we had before.
Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.
Perhaps that's why it stings the most. This agreement is nice. I'm happy hockey is back--really, I am. Except... the increasingly adversarial nature of these negotiations for every new CBA makes me sad. The reason the sides didn't try compromising right away is that they hate each other. There's no trust. There's no reason to give any ground when you don't think any will be given in return. You know that old saying? You know the one. You roll your eyes at it every time you hear it from some obnoxious sycophant when they hear you this sport. Oh, hockey is a game that breaks out between fights. And they laugh at their cleverness, and you roll your eyes at their ignorance. Doesn't it feel now like hockey is a game that breaks out between lockouts?
There's no sense of relief for me from this agreement; all I feel is foreboding. Fences clearly weren't mended the last time, and they damn sure didn't get improved during this offseason. The relationship between the NHLPA and NHL is trending in the wrong direction, and their willingness to fight over so little and sacrifice so much money just to save so little of it casts a long shadow over what little light shines through with the announcement of a new agreement. That relationship has to change--drastically--in the next decade (and it sure doesn't look like it will based on the history we've seen) or the only thing we've really been told today is that it's t-minus eight years until the next work stoppage. We can't say They're too dumb to do this again or They have too much to lose ever again because they've already shown that they are and they don't. That's a harsh realization, and it stings.
[...] and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again.