Needing to Learn to Share

Denver Post reporter Adrian Dater has a really interesting blog post today regarding the NHL lockout.

It starts with Dater sharing his, way more entertaining than you even would have guessed, biography.

Then the part commune-dwelling hippie, part hard-scrabble playground-bully survivalist delves into the issues that the league faces in trying to resolve its current work stoppage.

The money quote comes from a source that Dater describes as “someone who has both played the game (for a long time) and been a part of pro hockey management.”

“Gary [Bettman] has asked the players for 20 years to solve his problems. And whatever deal they make now, it’s not going to solve his problems. Only five or six teams are running this league, along with Bettman. They’re going to do what’s best for themselves. They could care less about the middle class and they could care less about the poor. What this league really needs most is revenue sharing. If they had a real revenue-sharing system, the poor would have a chance to make money along with the middle class, and the very rich teams would have to take a little less. But Bettman will never go for it, and as long as guys like Jeremy Jacobs and Murray Edwards are running the league along with Bettman, it’s never going to happen.”

What makes this interesting, besides the fact that it comes from someone who’s been on both sides of the collective bargaining fence, is how perfectly it explains in just 133 words why there are labor pains now…and could be in the future.

There is such a discrepancy between the NHL’s big money teams and the league’s penny-scrimpers, that without significant revenue sharing, the budget teams need almost draconian salary limits just to survive.

So as Dater’s source alludes to, it’s the players constantly making concessions.

And critics of Gary Bettman just got ammunition for when someone defends the commissioner by saying he’s just the “mouthpiece of the owners.” The retort is simply: “Yeah, but he’s supposed to represent all the owners. That isn’t happening.”

With revenue sharing having faded as an issue in CBA talks, you wonder if we won’t be back here again eight or ten years from now reading another Adrian Dater piece explaining in similar terms how yet another hockey season got derailed.

Forget federal mediators. What these negotiations need are a few kindergarten teachers who can explain to the NHL’s owners what it means to share.

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