Ever since sports started, team owners have been trying to take advantage of athletes. The mentality was that the owners were the smart people, the ones with the money. Players were property, just big dumb oxes that went out and ran around and tackled and skated and pitched for owners. They were paid whatever the owners wanted to pay them. Competition for their services was a textile factory.
But while there were some dumb oxes (and there still are) a few smart seeds out there saw the value in worker rights, and players started making more money with the advent of free agency, some of which they could use to hire people even smarter than them to negotiate fair market value. Of course, sports owners were making more money, and their franchise values were skyrocketing. It was a necessary expenditure, spending on the product that earned money. Players still weren’t human, but at least they were a commodity and not property.
Then, the players unionized. The players were trying to be treated like humans. They wanted to make sure silly things happened, like their health was taken care of, and their contracts were honored. Eventually, the unions had smart enough people representing them that they, collectively, were as bright as the ownership that had once taken full advantage of them. Where ownership recognizes that they are on the same level as a species with the players, there is labor peace [see: Major League Baseball... except in Miami]. Some leagues [see NBA/NFL] still view players as commodities, and there are some serious tete a tetes.
Of course, in the NHL, ownership refuses to to regard their players as anything but a subhuman group of mouth breathing idiots. In fact, the players recognize the problem with the league (a discrepency between the wealthy and poor teams), but the league won’t listen. They want to be respected and have their contracts honored. But the league still views the players as property, to be payed what they want them to be paid.
Ownership refuses to get with the times. They have broken the fans (I have heard people pleading with the players just to give in) but not the players. Perhaps that’s because they thought they had been more than accomodating 7 years ago, and now it’s clear that the owners are just trying to fuck them. The owners can’t just treat their players like property. At least bump them up to market regulated commodities. Figure it out. No more hiatuses. No more stunts. Stop being dicks.
For the time being, I’m done with the NHL. I still love hockey, and I love Barry Melrose Rocks, but the NHL can suck it.