On September 15th, the current NHL collective bargaining agreement will be expiring, and if history is any indication, the league is in big trouble.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has presided over two major work stoppages: one in 1994-1995 that reduced the season from 84 games to 48 games, and one in 2004-2005 that cancelled the entire season.
Could Bettman be shooting the NHL toward this unenviable work stoppage hat trick? What makes this possibility hard to understand is that the league has had increased revenues over the past 7 years topping out at $3.2 billion.
It should not take a rocket scientist as commissioner to figure out how to split up the billions without shutting down the league.
Another ominous factor is that Bettman will be in the ring this time with a top flight heavyweight in new NHLPA Executive Director, Donald Fehr. Yes, that is the same Donald Fehr who fought it out with the MLB for years.
I am sure that Fehr will not allow the players to be pushed around by Mr. Bettman, which makes an ugly fight more likely. As a Rangers fan, I should be celebrating the signing of Rick Nash, and looking forward to another serious run at the Cup. Instead, I am gearing up for another potential NHL work stoppage.
Of course hockey fans are in line to get screwed again by the greed and shortsightedness of the league. However, this is another opportunity for fans under the guidance of SportsFans.org to fight back. Until fans realize their collective power, work stoppages will always be distinct possibility.