By: Omar Moubayed
I sat here and tried for a very long time to write an article about the ongoing battle between Roger Goodell and Jonathan Vilma. The truth is I erased the entire article about three times already and just can’t seem to wrap myself in the details of the case. If you want my quick opinion, I think Vilma should sue the pants off Goodell for going on national television and defaming Vilma the way he did. No appointed position should ever be taking national media to ridicule an employee. It just rubs people the wrong way. So I turn my attention to the ever less popular sport of Hockey and why the hell there has yet to be a game played in the NHL season.
The chances that this will come across Gary Bettman’s or Donald Fehr’s computer screen is probably slim to none, I would definitely take none as a betting man, but I speak for the average NHL fan when I say “GET IT DONE ALREADY”. There is no point why two months into the lockout you guys are still squabbling at each other like school girls about whose turn it is to ride the pony. These two gentleman both had the opportunity to be the “Knight in Shining Armor” to legions of NHL fans and they both dropped the ba… err puck. In the most recent meetings the critical mass was reached on the length of player contracts. Seriously? This is what the main focus point has turned to? The average NHL player doesn’t have a 5 year deal, the length of max contracts wanted by the owners, for the love of God most don’t break the million dollar mark per year. The NHLPA has dropped the puck here significantly and it’s not even like the puck is “hot” (we play on ice boys come on now).
All kidding aside the two sides really need to reach a deal. This is the third lockout since 1994 and with each day that passed the league is reaching the crucial Mid-January deadline of being able to play at least a partial season. If this season is lost there is no doubt in my mind the NHL will on the exterior. Fan support will be at an all-time low. The NHL can’t even pack 13,000 people in an arena in Columbus, how do you think my Florida Panthers will fare?
So what’s my opinion? I think the time for negotiations is very far back the rear-view mirror at this point. This is the time where everyone needs to put on their big boy pants and make concessions because the ramifications from not having a season might be permanent. NHL and NHLPA brass are finally at a roughly 50-50 split on HHR, they’re close on make whole money, and players will eat the 5 year contract restrictions as UFA’s. Make no mistake THEY WILL HAVE TO EAT THE 5 YEAR CLAUSE. Fehr foolishly rejected the deal which angered NHL brass and caused the new impasse of negotiations because it would be a 10 year CBA. This move actually made the evil Gary Bettman seem likable to fans.
Will it get done? It’s such a complex question that I don’t have an answer. I’m optimistic there will be an NHL season this year but Fehr has to realize that fans can’t be going through this turmoil every 7 years. If I may speak directly to Don here… Hey Don, listen man if you really think you’re going to get a better deal than the one they just gave you, buddy I’ve got a check for you and it’s in the amount of reality. You think you’re protecting the players as a whole but you’re screwing every single third-fourth liner, the fans, and yourself. You’re going to be unemployed here in the near future and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.