Well yesterday sure was interesting. The NHL and NHLPA met at an undisclosed location at 3pm EST, and didn’t emerge until 10:15pm. For those keeping track that’s seven hours of negotiating in one day, which is about as much time spent as all other days combined. Fascinating. It’s amazing what pressure can do.
And make no mistake, there is now pressure on the NHL to get something done. The biggest mistake that Jeremy Jacobs and Gary Bettman made is that they treated this like the 2004-2005 lockout. There are many differences this year, but the biggest one is corporate pressure.
In 2004-2005, NBC did not have a stake in the NHL. The NHL did not have multiple large corporate sponsors that would have their bottom lines impacted if the NHL lost a season. This year, there’s the $200 million from NBC. There’s the hundreds of millions from Canadian TV, Molson, Gatorade, Bridgestone, etc. There are big time sponsors that are now pressuring the league to get something done.
Advantage: Players, in the sense that they know they won’t lose an entire year.
Now, after yesterday’s marathon negotiating session, which was preceded by Steve Fehr’s and Bill Daly’s marathon session on Saturday, both sides are set to meet again today. Two days of meetings in a row, and three in five days, is what we call progress.
We all know there’s a deal to be made here. We all know that both sides know what the deal is. We all know that it was only a matter of time before serious negotiations take place.
And now, we all know that this week is the biggest week in negotiations to date. If this progress continues, it’s likley they strike a deal relatively soon (end of the week). If one side reneges on previous concessions/agreements, then we are in for another month or two of cancellations, possibly more.
Cautious optimism is the best approach. Both sides were stupid enough to let it get this far. They can’t be stupid enough to lose an entire season, and risk losing their edge over the KHL.