Speculation on the NHLPA's failed gambit

The 11am deadline has passed. The season, apparently, will be cancelled. This is only really news because there was apparently an 11th hour attempt to make a deal. The players caved on the cap.

Why? All of the players interviewed last night were stunned. If a cap was ok now, why wasn’t it ok seven months ago. Why am I playing for beer in Bulgaria?! I can only speculate that the players never really meant to close a deal, they just wanted to make it clearly look like the owners’ fault.

If the players cave to the cap, then the owners don’t meet them in the middle, it looks like the owners’ fault the season is cancelled. Maybe that’s why, maybe not. If there isn’t some plan behind this, I think you can expect a mutiny in the players’ union shortly.

Despite the so-called evidence that Calgary in the finals meant the old CBA worked, that model was not sustainable. Without salary caps, teams face the choice of perennial loserdom or deficit spending. Of course, the smarter ones deficit spend with the hope of a miracle run to recoup some of the losses. But that’s livin’ on a prayer. It’s not sustainable, and, it clearly can’t work in a 30 team league.

There had to be a cap of some kind; there had to be. I once calculated that the average NHL player’s salary would not decrease at all under a $36M cap; only the most highly paid players would be paid less. As they do not represent a majority in the union, it’s quite silly to not get paid that same salary for the seven months you’re locked out.

No, despite whatever Larry Brooks says, this lockout isn’t about breaking the union. It’s about The Bobby Holiks and the Martin Lapointes being able to get their jackpots for skating a wing on the third line and racking up penalty minutes. That gives the average players false hope that some day, they too will be overpaid. (It’s just like getting poor people to vote for tax cuts for the rich–one day it could be me!!!) It’s also about Whine-omir Jagr and his gambling habit, Peter Forsberg and his lack of commitment to the NHL, Alexei Yashin and whether’s he mailed it in today. Clearly, the salary cap would impinge upon the right of these players to earn more than $10M per year.

It’s not about the average NHL player. It’s not about Andy McDonald or Andres Lilja or people like that.

It’s not that the owners are saints, but they are losing money, and if they close up shop, there’s no NHL either.