Russo: Plenty of blame, but fewer NHL games

  • Article by: WILD INSIDER MICHAEL RUSSO
  • Updated: October 27, 2012 - 8:26 AM

The league has just scrapped the first 27 percent of the season, and there is no hint of progress.

The NHL has canceled the entire November schedule -- 191 more games -- meaning nearly 27 percent (326 games) of the season is gone.

That will cost the Wild 23 games. And the league is days from canceling its signature event, the Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

Rhetoric continues, and both sides are assigning blame.

But, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated before the lockout began, "It takes two sides to make a deal, two sides to negotiate, and two sides to make it go bad."

And he's right.

The work stoppage is costing the league revenue and goodwill. It is costing the players large salaries and a portion of their limited careers. It is affecting arena workers, team employees and local businesses.

And it is costing the fans the sport they love.

So the question for the league, and for the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA), is: "How does this thing get resolved?"

Owners can't answer, because they would be fined by Bettman.

Players are depending on their union boss to negotiate an acceptable settlement. With many of their careers in jeopardy, they are probably eager to get an answer from NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr, an answer to this key question:

"What's the end game?"

The players, who can talk on the issues, don't seem to know the answer. Minnesota-based skaters can probably get some enlightenment when Fehr meets with them Monday in Minneapolis.

Let's look at the major issue.

The owners want an immediate 50-50 revenue split. Fehr has rejected that, proposing the players' share is higher, then offering a gradual reduction to 50-50 as revenues grow. The owners, in turn, rejected that.

But if Fehr is unwilling to accept an immediate 50-50 split when league revenues are more than $3 billion, as they were last season, what will he do when revenues crumble?

Fehr spent his entire Major League Baseball union life fighting against the salary cap, and he succeeded. If that is Fehr's intention here -- and he has intimated that it is -- the hiatus likely will grow longer.

The salary cap, to owners, is the equivalent of guaranteed contracts to players. And to the league, besides cost certainty, it delivers a level playing field. The owners will not give up the salary cap.

Still, players signed contracts mutually agreed to by owners. Morally, ethically, the players feel they deserve every cent.

But while players refuse pay cuts, the fact is they are about to take irretrievable cuts by being locked out for a long time. They have said they would lose $1.65 billion over a six-year period, but they will lose more than that this season if no hockey is played.

That doesn't seem to make sense, since the players still stand to make a lot of money by accepting a 50-50 split, even if revenues grow at a modest rate.

Since July, Fehr has caused the owners to negotiate against themselves, moving from an initial 43 percent player share proposal to 50-50. But the players lost leverage the moment the league scrapped an 82-game season.

The Wild alone loses a $1.1 million gate for every home game canceled.

The NHL shut down the 2004-05 season to get its salary cap, so the players are going against owners who have shown they will take extreme measures, a group that doesn't mind being "the bad guy." And those owners appear willing to shut down a season again to ensure a 50-50 split in revenues.

Wild veteran Matt Cullen, who lost that season eight years ago, wants both sides to return to the bargaining table because he feels a deal is close.

"We're now on a slippery road. It's a scary thing," Cullen said. "I really hope that we can get this back on the rails. ... I think all of us understand that the window is very short before this thing can get really ugly. ... It sure seems like it would be an absolute shame to lose more hockey when we're so close. Just get in the same room and get this thing hammered out."

Michael Russo • mrusso@startribune.com

  • related content

  • National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press...

  • NHL LOCKOUT

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Detroit 3:30 PM
Cleveland
Houston 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Oklahoma City 6:30 PM
Dallas
New York 8:00 PM
Portland
Toronto 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 4:00 PM
Florida
Vancouver 7:00 PM
Anaheim
Tulane 11:00 AM
St Johns
Central Conn St 12:00 PM
Connecticut
Iona 12:00 PM
Drexel
Concordia (MI) 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Harvard 1:00 PM
Arizona State
Longwood 1:00 PM
Ball State
Sacred Heart 1:00 PM
Brown
Colgate 1:00 PM
Columbia
MD-Eastern Shore 1:00 PM
Duquesne
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
East Carolina
Marist 1:00 PM
Elon
NJIT 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Cincinnati Christian 1:00 PM
Liberty
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Marquette
Campbell 1:00 PM
Samford
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Siena
Long Beach State 1:00 PM
Syracuse
Coppin State 1:05 PM
Evansville
UMKC 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Hofstra 1:30 PM
Long Island
Coast Guard 2:00 PM
Army
Thomas (GA) 2:00 PM
High Point
Texas Southern 2:00 PM
Kansas State
Rutgers 2:00 PM
Monmouth
NC Wesleyan 2:00 PM
NC A&T
South Dakota St 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Central Penn College 2:00 PM
Radford
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
South Florida
Harris-Stowe 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Robert Morris-IL 2:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Northland College 2:00 PM
North Dakota St
Milwaukee 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Northwestern St 2:30 PM
Arkansas
Saint Peters 3:00 PM
Cornell
St Katherine 3:00 PM
Fresno State
Haskell 3:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Wake Forest 3:00 PM
Richmond
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
Xavier
SD Christian 3:05 PM
Northern Ariz
Judson 3:30 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Ill-Chicago 4:00 PM
Bradley
Loyola-Maryland 4:00 PM
Fairfield
Miss Valley St 4:00 PM
Houston
Lehigh 4:00 PM
UMBC
Delaware State 4:00 PM
Temple
Belmont 5:00 PM
Butler
Howard 5:00 PM
Fordham
NW Christian 5:00 PM
Nevada
UC Davis 5:00 PM
Washington St
Abilene Christian 5:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UCLA 5:30 PM
Alabama
Stony Brook 7:00 PM
Washington
Buffalo 7:00 PM
Wisconsin
CS-Bakersfield 9:00 PM
California
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Drexel 11:00 AM
Miami-Ohio
Holy Cross 11:00 AM
Norfolk State
East Carolina 11:00 AM
South Florida
(10) Oregon State 12:00 PM
(8) Tennessee
Providence 12:00 PM
Boston College
Florida A&M 12:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Oakland 12:00 PM
Central Michigan
Chattanooga 12:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Fairfield 12:00 PM
La Salle
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Longwood
New Hampshire 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Bucknell 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Northeastern 1:00 PM
Albany
George Mason 1:00 PM
Towson
Richmond 1:00 PM
William & Mary
Tulane 1:00 PM
Cincinnati
North Florida 1:00 PM
Florida
(14) Georgia 1:00 PM
Seton Hall
Tennessee St 1:00 PM
(12) Kentucky
American Univ 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Boston U
Quinnipiac 1:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Lafayette 1:00 PM
Saint Peters
Northwestern 1:00 PM
(20) Michigan State
Duquesne 1:00 PM
Lehigh
George Washington 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Indiana
(24) Green Bay 1:00 PM
Dayton
Western Mich 1:30 PM
Stony Brook
Davidson 1:30 PM
Virginia
UNC Greensboro 2:00 PM
LSU
Denver 2:00 PM
North Texas
VA Commonwealth 2:00 PM
Coppin State
Huston-Tillotson 2:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Lamar 2:00 PM
Rice
Miss Valley St 2:00 PM
Alabama
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Middle Tennessee 2:00 PM
Tenn Tech
Penn State 2:00 PM
(23) Iowa
Purdue 2:00 PM
Illinois
DePaul 2:05 PM
Illinois State
Sam Houston St 2:05 PM
Wichita State
South Dakota 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(4) Notre Dame 3:00 PM
UCLA
Coll of Charleston 3:00 PM
SC State
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Dartmouth 3:00 PM
Niagara
Colgate 3:00 PM
Siena
Michigan 3:00 PM
Wisconsin
Fla Gulf Coast 3:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Yale 3:30 PM
(25) Arizona State
UC Santa Barbara 4:00 PM
(16) Stanford
Long Island 4:00 PM
Long Beach St
Jackson State 4:00 PM
Louisiana
Eureka 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Cornell 5:00 PM
(22) Syracuse
Temple 7:30 PM
Memphis
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close