Negotiation Puts Hockey in the Penalty Box

724 Words Jun 21st, 2010 3 Pages
NEGOTIATION PUTS HOCKEY IN THE PENALTY BOX (pg 532)

Not every negotiation ends on a good note. Just ask National Hockey League (N.H.L.) Commissioner Gary Bettman, who, on February 16, 2005, cancelled all of the games remaining in the season following a 5-month lockout by the owners. Though professional sports such as hockey and baseballs have had close calls with losing an entire season, Bettman’s decision was a first: The whole schedule was lost. Said Bettman, “This is a sad, regrettable day.”

On the other side of the dispute, Bob Goodenow, executive director of the N.H.L. Player’s Association, similarly regretted the impasse. He said, “Yes, we apologize to the fans.” Though the repercussions to the league and its
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team owners offered a salary cap that did not link payroll and revenue. At this point, negotiations looked promising.

However, neither party could agree on an amount. The owners offered a cap of $40 million per team and then increased it to $42.5 million. But the players wanted a cap of $52 million per team and then lowered their proposal to $49 million. Although the dollar difference in this round of negotiations amounted to only $6.5 million, neither side could agree, negotiations stopped, and the season was cancelled.

Said Goodenow, “Gary gave us a final offer, a take-it-or-leave-it offer. We made a counterproposal and events ground to a halt.” A reporter asked both sides whether they would have accepted a compromise of around $45 million per team. Such a compromise may have saved the season. Bettman stated, “If they wanted $45 million, I’m not saying we would have gone there, but they sure should have told us.” Goodenow, however, wouldn’t speculate: “The what-ifs aren’t for real.”

So how did the two sides eventually get the players back on the ice? They agreed to a 6-year deal that set a salary cap of $39 million per team for the 2005-2006 season (remember the players wanted a cap of $49 million). Many players were unhappy with the terms of the deal but felt that fighting the salary cap was a waste of time that did nothing but alienate the fans. Many players spoke out against

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