Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unity a Key for Locked-Out Players Personal Financial Issues Damaged Player Solidarity during the 2004-05 Lockout

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Unity a Key for Locked-Out Players Personal Financial Issues Damaged Player Solidarity during the 2004-05 Lockout

Article excerpt

This is, by most accounts, the easy part.

The time when players' enthusiasm for their cause is high, and their bank accounts are full.

When there is no reason members of the NHL Players' Association should not maintain a united front in the lockout that has, at the very least, delayed the opening of training camps and wiped out most of the preseason schedule.

Because player salaries are paid during the regular season, not a single paycheck has been missed, and players actually are scheduled to soon receive money that was held in escrow during the 2011-12 season under terms of the last collective bargaining agreement.

Those checks reportedly are worth an average of about $163,000, so it's unlikely that any player is in immediate peril of, say, having his utilities shut off.

But there is nothing to suggest that the sides agree on anything of consequence, except perhaps for how little on which they agree, so it's unlikely agreement on a new CBA will be reached anytime soon.

There were no negotiations Sunday, although the sides are expected to meet today to discuss hockey-related revenue from last season. That session could lead to renewed talks about a CBA to replace the one that expired Sept. 15.

While such discussions never are a bad thing, the owners and players have not come close to finding common ground on major economic issues, such as what constitutes hockey-related revenue and how it should be shared.

Until one side, or both, makes a major adjustment to its position on key financial matters, there's no chance of a settlement that would save the 2012-13 season.

Not surprisingly, some Penguins who went through the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season believe that personal finances became a huge factor in the cracks that developed in the NHLPA's unity then.

"Money," winger Pascal Dupuis said. "It's always a money issue."

Precedent says most owners can withstand the loss of revenues from ticket sales, sponsorships, broadcast rights, etc. for longer than many players can get by without being paid, which translates to leverage for management in the negotiations.

Money-related cracks in the NHLPA's solidarity presumably contributed to concessions that produced what was widely regarded as an owner-friendly CBA when it was finalized in 2005. …

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