NHL Lockout: Is it time for an arbitrator?October 16, 2012, by
Are you sick of the lockout yet? I know I am. Maybe that’s why it’s time these sides realize they won’t agree on anything. Maybe it’s time for them to get an arbitrator and just settle on a deal.
For those unfamiliar with CBA arbitration, it’s very similar to player arbitration. When two sides are far off on a deal, they jointly hire a neutral third-party to analyze both proposals, hear the arguments from both sides, and come to a conclusion in the middle that the sides will need to accept. However, much like player arbitration, both sides can walk away from the arbitrator’s decision, like they did in 2004.
So why do the sides need an arbitrator at this point?
The first point is the most obvious one: These sides are far apart, not on numbers, but philosophies. The players are willing to keep their salaries static, which when paired with climbing revenues, means their share decreases. The players also want to see a better revenue sharing system. The owners want another rollback. Different philosophies mean no deal and very little progress.
The second point is that this lockout isn’t about overhauling the game, like the 2004-2005 lockout was. This lockout is about money, and only money. It’s the greed of both sides that is preventing a deal. It is also the stubbornness of both sides that is preventing a deal. It all points to the differing philosophies.
The final point is another obvious one, but one that may be getting overlooked when it comes to making a deal. The players don’t trust the owners, and the owners think the players are weak. There is a lack of respect from both sides, and that will continue to play a role in the progress –or lack thereof– of these negotiations. It’s pretty simple really: both sides need each other, and neither side realizes this.
An arbitrator is a neutral party that would essentially eliminate the personal feelings from the equation (point #3), and would likely combine both philosophies into a deal that would be palatable for both sides (points #1 and #2). This path was attempted last year, and as mentioned above, both sides walked away. This year is different. It’s only about money. Considering the bad PR from both sides at this point, it’s hard to say that a side will walk away from what will be a reasonable outcome.
It’s been a month. Just bite the bullet and get something done.